Toll Collection

A toll road also known as a turnpike or a toll way can be defined as “a public roadway for which a fee (or toll) is assessed for the passage. It is a form of road pricing typically implemented to help recuperate the cost of road construction and maintenance, which (on public roads) amounts to a form of taxation”. The toll is normally collected in our country in booths called toll booths. These toll booths are manned by toll collectors who lower a barrier to prevent the car from passing. Once the toll is paid, the car is free to pass through, and the next car in queue moves forward to pay the toll. An array of such toll booths is called a toll plaza generally found at the exit ramps, end of bridges or highways. The section accommodating the toll plaza is often much wider than most sections of the road, to accommodate a considerable number of toll booths so that a large number of cars can be processed at the same time. When a highway approaches a toll plaza it generally divides into lanes. The lanes are designed to accommodate all kinds of motor vehicles ranging from motorcycles to heavy motor vehicles. Sometimes there are lanes designated for the use of heavy motor vehicles only.

However, the basic demerits of this system of toll collection are, it invariably gives rise to congestion of traffic at the collection points thereby causing delays. Your car may be the fortieth car in a particular line leading to a toll booth, and you have wait it out for an interminable period till the other thirty nine cars in front of you are cleared and your turn comes. And as always the queue you are standing in seems to move slower than the other queues…..Murphy’s Law. Such delays obviously disrupt the operational efficiency of the network and the benefits of availing the highway.

The solution comes in the form of Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) using the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology across the Indian National Highway Network. Originally used for tracking cattle and later modified in the military as the “identification friend or foe” tag, is based on the wireless technology of radio frequency electromagnetic fields for data transfer between a reader and a movable object for the purpose of identifying, tracking and categorizing tags attached to objects. The process is extremely fast and occurs without any physical contact between the reader and the tagged item. In case of an ETC point, the RFID technology will be used to process the data extracted from a magnetic tag attached to all the vehicles. Such a magnetic chip will be mandatory to all vehicles, which will store all the pertinent information concerning that particular vehicle. According to the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) senior deputy transport commissioner P.K. Stephen, “The RFID will have information like registration number of the vehicle, name and address of the owner, engine number, insurance validity, and PUC. We will also introduce facilities like payment of toll fee without any liquid cash transfer at the toll plazas with the RFID. The main benefits are we can easily monitor and control vehicle movements at major check posts, toll plazas, junctions and NHs.” Thus RFID will enable toll to be collected while the vehicle is still in motion at the ETC points. RFID rules will also be applicable to vehicles entering the state.

It is evident that RFID technology will also be used effectively against traffic violation, theft of vehicles or analyzing the causes of accidents. All cars manufactured from October 2013 will have RFID compatible technologies. A circular from the MVD has already been issued to its regional offices to start implementation of the project from October 7. Currently two major projects of implementation of RFID technology are under way from Delhi to Parmanoo on NH1 and NH5. ICICI bank has provided the technology to create a central clearing house, which is under process of construction. RFID undoubtedly is an excellent example of E-Governance to create a modernized, pollution and congestion free traffic system.