Home >News >India >Govt plans to use data from FASTags to monitor traffic, rework road toll policy
Photo: HT
Photo: HT

Govt plans to use data from FASTags to monitor traffic, rework road toll policy

  • The new policy aims to incorporate the changes since 2008 after a full review of the existing system
  • The government will make FASTag compulsory from 1 December on all national highway toll plazas

NEW DELHI : The government plans to use real-time data from electronic toll collection devices to monitor traffic and rework India’s decade-old road toll policy, two government officials aware of the matter said, requesting anonymity.

Officials from the Union roads ministry and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the apex body responsible for building and operating national highways, met on 15 November to work on the broad contours of the policy, the first official said.

Once the draft policy is ready, the government will seek the Union cabinet’s approval.

“Data from FASTags can be used to monitor traffic and track the movement of vehicles (in the highways), which will help us propose appropriate changes in the existing toll policy," he added.

Electronic toll collection devices, or FASTags, are fixed on vehicle windshields to enable drivers to zip through toll plazas without stopping.

The roads ministry has decided to make FASTag compulsory from 1 December on all national highway toll plazas, as part of the government’s plan to promote digital payments and decongest highways. Use of FASTags is expected to save time, reduce fuel use and pollution. It is currently operational across more than 500 state and national highways.

India’s first toll policy was formulated in 1997, which was revised in 2008. The new policy aims to incorporate the changes after a comprehensive review of the existing system.

Earlier this year, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) had submitted a blueprint to the government, suggesting the best electronic toll systems for the country, and the requisite infrastructure.

Currently, toll rates are revised annually, based on a formula, which takes into account wholesale inflation or wholesale price index (WPI).

According to Kushal Singh, partner, Deloitte, WPI may not be the right yardstick to set road tolls. “WPI comprises more than 200 items, wherein the cost of road or road construction has 10-15 items. As a result, it may not be reflective of WPI. Road construction also relates to manpower. 20-25% cost is manpower, which is linked to CPI (retail inflation). There is a need for a relook of the base rates," he added.

There are several other issues that should be reflected in the proposed policy, said Singh. “One question that arises is whether personal vehicles should be charged or only the commercial vehicles need be charged. Another question is if we should charge a person crossing the toll plaza for the entire stretch or limit it to a particular stretch, say, one or two kilometres that he has travelled (pay-per-use)."

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