June 1 , 2022
6 mins read

How Does a Toll Plaza Work? Why Are Tolls Needed?

Punit Chotia
Punit Chotia
How Does a Toll Plaza Work? Why Are Tolls Needed?
How Does a Toll Plaza Work? Why Are Tolls Needed?
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The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is in-charge of maintaining, overseeing and developing National Highways. National highways present all over the country are set up either in the BOT, EPC or PPC mode. When highways are made, toll plazas are built, and toll charges are specified by the government. The functioning of the toll plaza is conferred to a private party. Such private parties manage the toll plazas all over the country and gather the toll amount as set by the government for a certain period. The NHTIS has the information of all the toll plazas in the country. The website has information on all the toll plazas which are coloured and marked on the mode in which they are set up.

How Do You Find a Toll Plaza?

There are several ways a person can search for a fixed toll plaza from the NHTIS portal. A person can search with the name of the toll plaza or search toll plazas between any two locations on the national highway. For instance, there are 8 toll plazas between Bengaluru & Hyderabad, and the total one-way toll gate charges adds up to Rs. 599.

What data is available at each Toll Plaza?

The portal generally has information on each toll plaza. Given below is the information of a toll plaza at Gamjal in Telangana situated on the Hyderabad-Nagpur highway.

  • Details of the stretch
  • Gazette notification which authorizes toll collection
  • Any concessions
  • Monthly reports of inspections
  • Rate revision order
  • Exempted vehicles list
  • Tollable highway length
  • Available facilities near the toll plaza
  • Effective dates and toll rates
  • Other important data like contact information of the Project Director, helpline numbers, representative of the private party, nearest hospital details, nearest police station.

The website or portal also has the average traffic per day details and accumulative toll revenue besides other details. The revised toll rates are also displayed on the website.

If you find an inconsistency, here is how you can make a complaint

If you notice any discrepancy on the collected toll plaza tax or have a complaint related to the toll plaza’s operations, there are many ways you can bring this to the notice of NHAI

  • Provide feedback on the portal.
  • Register a complaint on the NHAI toll tax free number, 1800-1160-62.
  • Report a grievance on the PG Portal under the category Ministry of Road Transport & Highways.
  • Leave a complaint with the particular Project Director whose details can be checked on the NHTIS website/portal.

The NHAI also provides a cash prize money of up to Rs. 25,000 for details on wrong dealings in NHAI or their projects.

Changes on the website

Updates are regularly given on several new rules, with all new circulars being displayed on the website/portal. For e.g., a document issued in 2014 on checking toll collection contractor’s performance and stopping wrong measures/practices can be found there. As per this document, contractors are disallowed from providing coffee/wafers/namkeen packets and in place giving the change of the outstanding amount while collecting the toll charges. Such practices call for a penalty which is increased to 10 lakh rupees besides possible contract termination. The document mentions contractors issuing advertisements in newspapers for giving back the outstanding amount if the food packages are provided in place of the change. Every toll plaza is ordered to display notices in a particular format to offer information to passengers.

From next year onwards, in 2022, vehicles need not stop at any toll plaza for the payments. Instead of manual collection, toll charges will be collected depending on the technology of global positioning. This move focuses on guaranteeing free movement of cars and vehicles without the toll barrier, improved control of audit and centralized accounts of users for the toll authority, and visible toll operations, which are pilferage-free together with strict adherence to norms by restraining the wastage of fuel.

Highway Technology

This announcement is about the government taking measures for collection of toll to be necessary via RFID or Radio Frequency Identification from February 2021 – technology-based toll plaza FASTag. There is one problem with toll plaza FASTag.  To scan the RFID tag and make the electronic payment, vehicles are required to stop at toll gates, even if only for a few seconds. Nonetheless, it has lowered the waiting time at the toll plaza by 69%, as of February 2021, compared with the figures in 2020. In February last year, the waiting time was 464 seconds and is presently down to 150 seconds. This will result in yearly fuel savings of Rs. 20,000 crores annually, and lower carbon emission by five lakh tonnes on a monthly basis.

But there is still a long way to go where carbon emission, fuel saving and faultless travel are concerned on the National Highway Network. As per a survey conducted by IIM Calcutta and Transport Corporation of India in 2015, India’s yearly extra fuel consumption cost is roughly $14.7 billion because of delays. This is where global positioning technology tolling comes into the picture.

Are Toll Plazas Really Needed?

Toll tax is an innovative and emerging way for a successive income stream. The expressways and highways are in control of interstate connectivity. So, toll tax assists in regular upscaling and betterment of the roads. There are zero toll charges on urban roads or domestic streets. Having a toll plaza makes the maintenance procedure autonomous from tax revenue coming in from other alternate sources.

How This System Actually Works

In the technology of global positioning, there is electronic toll collection, online gantries control the exit and entry of cars on the area tolled. With the absence of a collection booth or FasTAG gantries, cars are to be armed with a device with global positioning technology which is on-board. The user’s vehicle details and bank account with the vehicle type and registration number will be installed inside it.

When utilizing this network, the unit independently decides the vehicle’s position by using GNSS or Global Navigation Satellite System. GNSS is a constellation or satellite which offers services of PNT or positioning navigation and timing. One thing to be noted is that global positioning system is a navigation system owned by the American government, ISRO or Indian Space Research Organization has formed its own local GNSS called NAvIC or Navigation Indian Constellation comprising satellites - seven in number, that are most likely used for collection of toll (electronic) which is satellite-based.

When the toll area is recognized, the in-built GPS device starts a completely automated tolling procedure. This data of movement is distributed by the car/vehicle set to the service provider’s back office. This back office decides the amount of toll to be deducted depending on the parameters, including length of the toll area used and the vehicle type, among other factors. For satellite-based tolling, the country will soon begin the geo-fencing process of the whole highway network in India.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and the IHMCL or Indian Highways Management Company Ltd have started several development initiatives. The department is carrying out an initial project on electronic tolling, which is global positioning-based on the highway of Mumbai-Delhi, the IHMCL has called for bids for tolling, which is GNSS-centric.

The government will very soon release an installation policy of global positioning in vehicles. IHMCL has called for bids for attracting consultants for this project. The work’s scope includes deciding on a report on specifications and standards of the GNSS-based tolling system and creating a request for selection of the required agency.

As per logistics companies that have profited on the basis of turnaround time and fuel wastage because of plaza vehicles in the FASTag rollout, satellite-based collection of toll charges is a much-required technology to upscale. But there has to be an integration of the system at the national highway level and the state highway level, and a structured policy for on-board device installation.

The Indian government is thinking of removing every toll plaza from the country in the next two years and will transfer to a Global Positioning System or GPS technology-based toll fee collection to assure faultless vehicle movement all over the country. The toll amount will be directly deducted from the bank account depending on the vehicle movement. As all commercial vehicles are available with vehicle tracking, the Government will issue a plan for the installation of GPS technology in old cars and vehicles.

NHAI toll revenue in 2020 was Rs. 24000 crores, and with the facilitation of FASTags from January 2020, toll gate charges or revenue in 2021 is anticipated to reach Rs. 34000 crores. The Highway Ministry requested NHAI in July 2019 to convert toll lanes to FASTag lanes at all national highways, a move focused at turning travel via toll plazas faultless and congestion-free. NHAI toll revenue figures are important in this case.

FASTag users in India crossed the two crore mark in November 2020, marking an expansion of 400% in just a year. Incorporation of FASTag with road users has increased the total toll collection to Rs. 92 crores daily in comparison to Rs. 75 crores just a year back, if you go by the government’s evaluations. The government has also indicated that steel companies have increased prices by 55% in a period of six months.

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