The Government of India has announced the extension of mandatory FASTag toll collection. 31st December was the previous deadline but the government has announced that the toll booths will continue to accept cash payments as toll fee till 15th February. This is not the first time that the government has deferred the deadline of implementation mandatory FASTag payments at the toll booths in India.
National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) announced earlier this year that the toll booths will not accept cash payment or any other mode of payment from 1st January 2020. However, the deadline is now 15th February. The NHAI has announced similar deadlines in the past but has always deferred the deadline due to various reasons.
As per NHAI, the current share of FASTag in the toll payments is around 75 to 80%. Which means about 80 vehicles in every 100 vehicles use FASTag as payment at the toll gates. however, the ministry has said that the NHAI can obtain regulatory requirement from it for ensuring a 100% cashless toll collection at the booths from 15th February. After repeated delays in the implementation of the cash-free toll booths, it seems like there will not be any more delays now.
NHAI official said that the cash is a legal tender and is a legal mode of transaction, which is why they cannot deny the motorists to use the cash at all. However, the best approach to the problem is to strictly enforce the Motor Vehicle Rule, which has made FASTag a mandatory in every new vehicle. The official also said that there is a significant increase in the number of transactions made by FASTag users in recent months and it is increasing too.
Discouraging cash payments
NHAI has also enforced several measures to discourage motorists from using FASTag. To start with, all the lanes of the toll gates will take only FASTag payment except for one. There will be a single cash lane on both the sides for the motorists who want to make the payment in cash. Also, if the vehicle without a valid FASTag enters the lane dedicated for the tag users, a double toll fee is charged. The new deadline will allow the motorists to add the FASTag to their vehicles easily and well in time.
FASTag uses Radio Frequency Identification or RFID for the transaction at the toll gates. The tag is mounted on the front windscreen of the vehicle and whenever it crosses a toll plaza an RFID reader takes information for the transaction and the toll gate opens automatically. The whole event happens within a second, which ensures quicker movement of the vehicles and almost negligible waiting time at the toll gates. The primary focus of making FASTag mandatory is to reduce the congestion at the toll gates across the country.
GPS-based toll collection
The government of India has also announced that a GPS-based toll collection system will be launched in the future. The new system will utilise the GPS system installed in the vehicles and will collect the toll automatically from the user’s bank account based on the distance travelled by the vehicle. The implementation of the GPS based system is still a few years away.