Vehicles using the expressway passing through the Chandimandir toll plaza at Panchkula in Haryana no longer need to stop to pay the toll. On April 19, the plaza will unveil the country's first electronic toll collection (ETC) system based on radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.
When a vehicle bearing an RFID tag passes through the toll plaza, the reader at the plaza identifies the unique ID of the tag and transmits the information to the central clearing house. The toll is instantly debited from the ID account and the same is transferred to the toll operator concerned through the bank at the end of the shift or day.
"The system works just like the cards carried by the users of the Delhi Metro," Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, C.P.Joshi told Business Today.
An expert committee headed by Unique ID Authority chairman Nandan Nilekani favoured the ETC system on an RFID platform.
"This is the first pilot project we are implementing, and we hope to bring the entire national highway network under the ETC mode in the next two years," Joshi said.
The new system, once unveiled across India, will significantly reduce the congestion on expressways and travel time, he added.
A road user needs to register with the agency manning the plaza by giving details such as his name, address, vehicle type, registration etc, when requesting the RFID tag. A central database will store the information along with the user's tag code.
Those registered for the ETC system can also get online statements of toll payment details.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways plans to network all the toll plazas for seamless data communication between toll plazas and the central clearing house.
Regardless of the toll plazas being operated by National Highways Authority of India or build-own-operate concessionaires, the readers at toll plazas will read Tag Ids and send this along with the Plaza ID to the central clearing house, which will facilitate the deduction of the toll amount from the user's account.
Expressways are expected to progressively introduce the ETC system. Those toll plazas introducing the electronic toll collection will initially earmark one or two lanes for ETC users and increase the number of lanes according to the response.
Each ETC lane will also have an automatic vehicle classification system for cross-verification in order to check whether a car has a history of toll evasion.