Using cash to pay toll? Then be ready to pay 10 - 20% more. The government in an effort to decongest toll plazas, is incentivizing cash-free tolling like in the metros. The reason is simple- cash payments take time. The government reckons that the extra charge on cash payments will bring about a behavioural shift in commuters and make them opt for electronic tolling through FASTags instead as reported by ET.
If this system is implemented it would consequently reverse the current incentive system in which e-tolling attracts a marginal markdown.“Cash tolling leads to congestion at toll plazas. So far, we have a discount for electronic tolling. Now, we are planning to reverse this,” a government official was reported to have said according to ET.
The new move by the government is likely to find mention in the new policy document being prepared by the National Highways Authority of India. Introduced in 2014, FASTags employed RFID technology which makes payments directly via prepaid or savings account linked to the sticker fixed on the vehicle. This means that cars need not stop at the toll booth resulting in more efficient roadways.
Toll Booths result in multiple unseen costs such as environmental costs due to the excessive levels of pollution caused by standing cars . The other problem is with land acquisition , a larger space has to be acquired for toll plazas due to the congestion. And of course there is a massive time loss issue present with toll plazas.
Vishwas Udgrikar at Deloitte suggests that promoting an electronic payments system is a move in the right direction but the government should iron out any glitches in the e-tolling system and ensure that all the surcharge flows into NHAI’s kitty. Cash tolling will be allowed in the long term in the bare minimum of cases as reported by ET.
“The problem is, most of the old contracts did not have electronic tolling as part of the build-operate transfer (BOT) structure. So it’s a two-way task of encouraging both commuters and concessionaires,” Udgirkar added as reported by ET.
As of now, a paltry 30% of NHAI toll plazas have an electronic mode of accepting payment. Around Delhi, for instance, more than 60% of the toll is collected through cash. The government official said this figure should ideally be less than 10% according to ET.