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NEW DELHI : A robust digital payment system, improved toll infrastructure on highways, and slew of measures taken by the government to promote digital payments has provided the required impetus for the FASTag usage.

To put it in perspective, there are two crore FASTag users in the country and it contributes nearly three-fourth of the total toll collection, as per the official data. Also, the total toll collection has now increased to 92 crore per day from 70 crores per day, a year ago, according to the National Highways Authority of India (FASTags).

The higher adoption of the electronic toll collection device has been driven by commercial vehicles that account for majority of the traffic on the highways.

Over the last one year, the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry has been trying to hard sell the mandatory implementation of FASTags. The move was fraught with tech-related challenges, with e-wallets and the tag not working, which hardly made any difference in the waiting time at the toll plazas.

Experts believe, that the series of steps taken by the government have prompted people to switch to use of electronic toll collection device.

“Now all toll plazas have active infrastructure. While earlier the government was talking about the infrastructure, there were only two FASTag lanes on the toll plazas. Now they have reversed it. Somebody using toll plaza regularly, now has an incentive to use FASTag, or stand in long queues," Kushal Singh, Partner at Deloitte said.

“Any percentage increase in commercial FASTag increases the overall revenue significantly Earlier, the penetration of commercial traffic was 70% which has now increased to 85-90%. And commercial (traffic) accounts for 75% of the total toll traffic," Singh said.

FASTag is an electronic toll connection device fixed on the windshield of a vehicle. It uses Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) technology that provides users an effortless cross-over at toll plazas without waiting/halting. It is currently operational across more than 700 state and national highways across the country and will be soon made available at petrol pumps and can be used to pay parking fees at malls, airports and other private parking lots.

Last week, the transport ministry had said that the use of FASTag will be mandatory in all four wheelers from 1 January, 2021, as a part of its attempt to drive faster adoption of the electronic toll collection. Earlier, the government had made it mandatory for registration of all four-wheelers sold in India from December 2017 to be fitted with FASTags to enable automatic deduction of toll charges.

To further boost electronic toll collection, the transport ministry last week said it has made FASTags mandatory for all four-wheelers including old vehicles from 1st January 2020. In December 2017, the government had made FASTags mandatory for the registration all four-wheelers sold across the country.

The transport ministry has also made FASTags mandatory for availing new third-party vehicle insurance from 1st April 2021. For national permit vehicles, the electronic toll collection device has been mandatory since 1 October 2019.

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