GPS toll collection to replace FASTags within months, hints Nitin Gadkari
- GPS-based electronic toll collection system will allow barrier-free movement of cars without the need to stop for toll payments.
FASTags are soon to be replaced by GPS-based electronic toll collection system on highways across India. The change could happen as soon as April this year, weeks before the nation goes to polls. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has hinted that the GPS-based electronic toll collection system could be implemented before code of conduct comes into force ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections. As one of the first steps towards implementation, the Centre has appointed a consultant for GPS-based toll collection system on national highways.
Since 2021, FASTags became mandatory for all vehicles to pay tolls on highways. Vehicles without FASTags are required to pay double the toll fee as fine. However, after three years of its implementation, FASTags could be phased out to introduce the GPS-based electronic toll collection system, which will make toll plazas redundant. The new system will use automatic number plate recognition system through cameras installed at highways and deduct tolls based on distance travelled by a vehicle. Currently, FASTags use RFID-based toll collection at plazas.
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In December last year, Gadkari had said that the new GPS-based toll collection system will replace FASTags as soon as March. He had said, “The government is looking at new technologies, including GPS-based toll systems to replace toll plazas in the country... we will start new GPS satellite-based toll collection across the country by March next year."
FASTags were introduced as mandatory mode to pay toll fees from February 15, 2021. Days ago, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) asked all FASTag users to complete KYC formalities to continue enjoying the service after February 29. The initiative is part of the NHAI's One Vehicle One FASTag policy which aims to blacklist multiple FASTags for single vehicle or vice versa.
The GPS-based toll collection system is already implemented on a pilot basis on some of the highways. After successful test run, the system will be implemented across highways in India.
How GPS-based toll collection works:
The new GPS-based toll collection system will scan vehicle number plates and charge toll fees. Gadkari said that the Centre has already conducted test runs of the new system at two places. The system will use automatic number plate recognition system through cameras while a vehicle is on the move. The number plates will be linked to accounts from where the toll fee will be deducted based on the distance it has travelled.
How GPS-based toll collection will be different from FASTags:
Currently, most of the highways across India use FASTag to deduct toll fees. An RFID-enabled barrier at toll plazas read the FASTag IDs pasted on vehicles and charge fees based on distance between two toll plazas. The system requires vehicles to stop at toll plazas to get scanned. This often creates long queues, failing the very reason why FASTags were introduced in the first place.
The introduction of FASTags reduced the average waiting time for vehicles at toll plazas to about 47 seconds from 8 minutes back in 2018-19. Yet, with faulty scanners or vehicles without balance on FASTags often cause long queues at toll plazas. The new GPD-based toll collection will not require vehicles to stop at any point. Cameras set up along the highway will be used to scan number plates and deduct the toll amount.