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There are over 700 toll plazas on Indian highways. Using them is often a pain because of long queues to pay toll charges. To reduce this congestion, the government recently made electronic toll payments mandatory for four-wheelers through FASTags. But a study suggests that as long as toll charges are fixed irrespective of the rush at a given time, this congestion will continue.

Dynamic toll pricing, in which peak-hour charges are raised and off-peak-hour charges are discounted, could help shift traffic from peak to off-peak hours, suggests the study by Himanshu Swami and others of National Institute of Technology, Surat.

The study uses an online survey of over 750 users to find how willing they are to use toll plazas outside peak hours for discounts. The tradeoff here is that the greater the discount, the further outside peak hours they would have to use the plaza.

For a 10% discount, a user would come 20 minutes before or after peak hours. For a 25% discount, 45 minutes before or after, and so on. The survey finds 21% of users willing to shift to off-peak hours, but the rest don’t have the flexibility to shift because of reasons such as fixed working hours.

Users of small cars such as hatchbacks were more willing to shift than users of big cars like SUVs and light commercial vehicles.

Around 6% of small car users said that for a 10% discount in the evening, they would use the plaza outside peak hours. Users of big passenger cars, who are mainly from high-income groups, wouldn’t shift in the evening for a 10% discount, but 3.3% said they would for a 25% reduction.

Users of light commercial vehicles showed little desire to shift from peak hours, because they have to make trips at specified times that can’t be changed.

Also read: “Developing Policy Framework of Dynamic Toll Pricing in India"

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