The union government plans to bring in a GPS-based toll system in the place of the current FASTag to ensure seamless payment and vehicle movement on national highways, ending the role of toll plazas, two persons privy to the development said.
One of the two persons said that the ambitious is being put into motion with the ministry of road transport and highway (MoRTH) starting work on further amendments to Motor Vehicles Act to facilitate new technology-based tolling.
The persons quoted said that though the technology to support GPS based tolling is available and can be implemented quickly, the actual launch may not be immediate but gradual and in phases with under construction greenfield expressways and highways getting this system first.
“Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has amended the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008 allowing for the collection of toll fee based on distance travelled by the vehicle on the NH. This will facilitate introduction of GPS based system of tolling but before such thing is introduced a lot of work also needs to be done to upgrade roads with technical infrastructure for a GPS based system. Also, amendment to Motor Vehicles Act may also be required. So, complete GPS based tolling eliminating the need for toll
Plazas is still some time away,” said the official asking not to be named.
Query sent to MoRTH remained unanswered till the press time.
Given the absence of proper regulatory framework including privacy concerns, and lack of powers to prosecute a vehicle based on any location on the highway is also coming in way for quick implementation of the new system. Till such time, the FASTag system would continue for few more years before the GPS based tolling system is rolled out. This will also mean that toll plazas would not go immediately. The new amended toll fee determination rules have also allowed NHAI or highway concessionaires to retain the toll plazas on NHs.
Under GPS based tolling, vehicles will need to be fitted with a device that can track its movement on the highways. Once such vehicle would enter a tolled road, a highway system would track the vehicle. And toll will be charged based on the distance travelled at the exit point if a highway.
Under the system, a highway user will have to get himself and his vehicle registered along with like bling bank accounts that will be used to transfer toll payments.
It is expected that under the system, toll charges may reduce as vehicles may be charged on actual distance travelled and not based charges fixed at each toll plazas now.
The GPS based system is also proposed withdraw local residential pass or other concessions available for travel on highways. This will also need to reworked your Nader GPS system if certain exclusions from tolling needs to be built in.
Meanwhile, the current FASTag system is getting increased use across the country since this is as made mandatory in 2021 after its introduction in 2015. According to official data, FASTag penetration has surged from nearly 16 % in 2017-18 to 96.3 % in 2021-22. The total toll collection during 2017-18 was ₹21,948 crore including ₹3,532 crore collected through FASTag. However, in 2021-22, toll collection through FASTags increased sharply to ₹33,274 crore out of total toll collection of ₹34,535 crore.