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New Highway Tolling System in India



  Mar 12, 2024

New Highway Tolling System in India



What’s Happening?

India plans to introduce a new toll collection system on highways using satellite navigation before the 2024 elections. This system aims to charge drivers based on the exact distance they travel on the highway.

How Does It Work?

• Satellite Navigation: The system relies on global navigation satellites, including India’s GAGAN, to pinpoint the location of vehicles with an accuracy of about 10 meters.
• On-Board Unit (OBU): Vehicles will have an OBU, a device that tracks their movement on the highway. The toll charges, based on the distance traveled, will be automatically deducted from a digital wallet linked to the OBU.
• Enforcement Gantries: Highways will have gantries with CCTV cameras to ensure compliance. They’ll check if vehicles are trying to avoid tolls by tampering with or not using the OBU.

Challenges Ahead:

• Payment Recovery: Collecting tolls could be tricky if a vehicle’s linked wallet runs out of money or if drivers bypass the system.
• Enforcement: Without physical toll barriers, ensuring that all vehicles comply, especially those without OBUs or with OBUs turned off, could be difficult.
• Legal and Technical Infrastructure: The government needs to update laws for toll collection and address the absence of gantry-based systems nationwide. The success also depends on the quality of license plates for automatic number-plate recognition.

Privacy and Security:

• Data Security: The decision to use India’s GAGAN system instead of the U.S.-owned GPS aims to keep data within the country, enhancing security.
• Privacy Law: The Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023, will help address privacy concerns related to the system.

What About FASTags?

• Coexistence with FASTags: The new satellite-based system will coexist with the current FASTag system. It’s undecided whether OBUs will be mandatory for all vehicles or just new ones.
• FASTags Efficiency: FASTags have achieved significant compliance for toll collection, but the satellite system promises lower operational costs and eliminates the need for physical toll plazas.

In Summary:

India’s move to a satellite-based toll collection system represents a significant technological upgrade aimed at ensuring drivers pay only for the distance they travel, promoting efficiency and reducing operational costs. However, it faces challenges in implementation, privacy, and compliance.


 


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