Satellite-based toll system on highways to save time, money
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Satellite-based toll system on highways to save time, money

March 29, 2024

In December 2023, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari announced NHAI would roll out new system by March 2024

New Delhi: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said that the Ministry will introduce a satellite-based toll collection system, under which, the toll amount will be charged according to the distance covered, and the money will be deducted directly from the user’s bank account.

“Money will be deducted from your bank account and the amount of road you cover will be charged accordingly,” Gadkari said. The system will help reduce toll tax and make the journey smoother. “Through this, time and money can be saved,” he added.

The Minister, however, did not clarify when the new system would be introduced. On complaints of exorbitant toll taxes, the Minister said that highways save time and fuel usage as well, adding, “Earlier, it used to take nine hours to travel from Mumbai to Pune. Now it is a 2-hour journey. Seven hours of diesel get saved. Naturally, we have to pay some money in return. We are doing it through public-private investment. So we will have to return the money too.”

Reiterating his commitment to making India’s road network at par with that of the USA by the end of 2024, Gadkari stated that the fate of India’s roads would change by the end of this year. He affirmed that he would “definitely be successful” in completing this task.

What is a GPS-based toll plaza system?

As the name suggests, under this system, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will introduce toll collections that run on GPS technology. This means that drivers won’t have to stop at plazas to pay toll charges. The toll instead will be deducted automatically from the bank account of vehicle owners.

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How does the system work?

A GPS-based toll system will match the GPS coordinates of a moving vehicle to calculate the fee. The toll fee would automatically be deducted as the vehicle approaches a collection point. For the system to work, all vehicles must be fitted with the new number plates that can be directly monitored through satellites using GPS. The automatic number plate reader (ANPR) cameras installed on highways will recognise the GPS-enabled number plate of customers to deduct the money from their bank account.

What is the FASTag system?

Currently, the FASTag system is being used to deduct tolls at plazas. FASTags were made mandatory for all four-wheelers from February 2021. It is an electronic toll collection system in which ‘Radio Frequency Identification’ (RFID) technology is used to make toll payments.

The FASTag contains a small RFID chip that communicates wirelessly with toll booth readers. When a vehicle equipped with a FASTag approaches the booth, the RFID chip emits a unique 13-digit identification code, which is then captured by the toll booth reader. This code is linked to the vehicle owner’s prepaid account, allowing for automatic deduction of toll charges.

Notably, during 2018-19, the average waiting time for vehicles at the toll plaza was 8 minutes. With the introduction of FASTags, the time was reduced to 47 seconds.

Is the GPS-based system different from FASTags?

FASTags make toll payments electronically by using scanners at toll plazas, letting vehicles pass without stopping. With the GPS-based system, tolls will be deducted using the ANPR technology based on distance travelled, making toll plazas unnecessary.

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