India’s Maiden GPS-Based Tolling Project Underway
The Road Transport and Highways Ministry’s bid, to equip highways with world-class facilities, has received a massive boost after it was announced that a pilot run is scheduled to take place for a global positioning system (GPS)-based tolling project on the Delhi-Mumbai corridor. This move is expected to gain plaudits from road passengers as well as infrastructure companies.
The GPS-based tolling system is a ‘pay as you travel’ scheme which was announced in the 2018-19 budget. It will enable the highway commuters to pay toll charges according to the distance travelled. At present, the travellers pay a fixed toll amount irrespective of the distance covered. The responsibility to implement this project has been assigned to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
This tolling system will be completely automatic and the vehicles being used for this pilot run will have a FASTag sticker attached on their windscreen, which would facilitate automatic toll deductions, and the toll gates will open post that immediately, a senior government official said, on condition of anonymity.
The pilot study will provide the NHAI with significant details regarding the processing time required for transactions as well as the drawbacks of this system. The deadline date for submission of bids for the study is 26 February. This project was earlier planned for trial on the Easter Peripheral Expressway but the delay in its completion paved way for the Delhi-Mumbai corridor.
This move was expected by many as Mr Nitin Gadkari, the Minister of Road Transport and Highways had indicated last year in the India Integrated Transport and Logistics Summit that the NHAI is working on a “pay per km” project.
This announcement created an encouraging scenario for the future as the toll rates across the country have been on a rise. India’s toll count, those under the NHAI, goes way up to 362, generating revenue of more than 18,000 crores. Mr Vikash Sharda, the executive director at advisory firm PwC, said that e-tolling in India is on a rapid rise as the percentage of users increased from 4% in 2016 to 20-22% by December 2017. According to him, the success of this technology can transform the toll collection system entirely. He continued, saying that toll plazas could be eliminated entirely if this project is implemented in the future.
The future of the project depends entirely on this pilot run. This move can face various technological hurdles in the near future but it is a transitional phase that the Indian highways need to go through, for a better-digitalized future.