Electronic Toll Collection might not save time, unless these problems are tackled
Considering that on a single toll, on an average about 10 minutes are wasted while waiting in queue, Govt. claims the new ETC system will save about 3 hours of time for people travelling on the entire stretch of Mumbai to Delhi or vice versa.
At the launch of ETC system on the Delhi-Mumbai route, Mr Nitin Gadkari said that his government plans to install ETC across 350 National Highways by December 2015. Once implemented across India, this system will save Rs 27,000 crores on time, and 7,000 crores on fuel every year.
In order to utilize the benefits of ETC, you will need to install a FASTag on to the windscreen of your vehicle. This FASTag is a Radio Frequency Identification Device. After getting this device registered with Central Clearing House (CCH) operators and your bank account, you no longer need to pay in cash for toll while travelling on the Mumbai-Delhi NH8. Just drive through the dedicated lanes, and money will be automatically deducted from your account.
But, there are a few problems. During our travel today on the Bombay Ahmedabad stretch, we noticed that there is no discipline. Vehicles without the FASTag’s were entering the designated lane, and paying toll in cash. While the one’s with FASTag’s were waiting in queue, behind these vehicles.
When we asked the toll collector, why were vehicles without FASTag’s allowed in the lane, and why was he accepting cash from them, his reply was that as there are not enough cars with FASTag’s this lane remains empty. In order to keep the traffic flow uninterrupted, we use the ETC lane as a normal lane for the time being. Well, the point of ETC lane is that it should remain empty, in order to save time. This toll collector thinks otherwise.
Another issue we noted, at some of the tolls, the ETC lane and VIP lane were same. There was no dedicated ETC lane at such tolls. This also defeats the purpose, if a VIP is travelling on the same route, and does not have a FASTag installed, he is bound to cause delay to those with FASTag.
Unless the government looks into these issues, the wonderful initiative might not see its true potential. Though the initiative is good, it will take some time to see its actual benefits.