Delhi-Mumbai corridor to see pilot run of first GPS-based tolling project
New Delhi: The road transport and highways ministry is set to launch the pilot for a global positioning system (GPS)-based tolling project on the Delhi-Mumbai corridor, a move seen as a game changer for road passengers as well as infrastructure companies.
Under the GPS-based tolling system, India’s first, commuters will pay only for the distance they travel on a toll road as against the current practice of paying a fixed toll irrespective of whether they use all or a part of a road.
The project, to be implemented by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), will be the pilot for the “pay as you travel” scheme announced in the 2018-19 budget.
The GPS-based tolling system will be fully automatic and the vehicles under trial will be fitted with a FASTag, which would enable automatic deduction of toll charges after which the toll gates will open automatically, a senior government official explained, on condition of anonymity.
The amount will be deducted from the vehicle holder’s account and credited to the concessionaire’s within a day.
The pilot study will also provide an idea of the time required for processing transactions and the kind of disputes that could arise from them.
The last date for submission of bids for the pilot study is 26 February.
Mint had first reported on the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s plans to work on such a policy in May last year.
The pilot project was earlier to be implemented on the Eastern Peripheral Expressway but due to a delay in its completion, the pilot stretch was changed.
Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari had hinted during the India Integrated Transport and Logistics Summit in May last year that his ministry and the NHAI were working on a “pay per km” project.
The move comes at a time when toll rates across the country have been rising.
India has 362 toll plazas under the NHAI, generating revenue of more than Rs18,000 crore.
Vikash Sharda, executive director at advisory firm PwC, said e-tolling in India has increased rapidly from about 4% in 2016 to about 20-22% by December 2017.
GPS-based e-tolling is a part of the National Electronic Toll Collection programme of the government of India and the success of this technology can transform the toll collection system, Sharda said. This would not only help in capturing actual distances travelled by a vehicle and charging user based on travel distance but may also eliminate the need to construct toll plazas in future, he added.
However, a technology expert who did not wish to be named said the move will face several hurdles such as net connectivity, making all vehicles GPS-enabled, etc. GPS-enabled tolling requires an ecosystem which would need investments and change in consumer behaviour, he added.