Electronic toll plazas can save Rs.22 bn annually: Study

Mumbai : An electronic toll collection (ETC) system, proposed to be implemented nationwide by the National Highways Authority of India, could save fuel worth Rs.10 billion and Rs.12 billion in toll leakages per year, a study said here Wednesday.

There are nearly 525 toll plazas operating on the national and state highways across the country with an average of at least 20,000 vehicles passing through them daily, according to the CRISIL Research report.

On an average, each vehicle awaiting its turn at the toll plazas consumes half to one litre of fuel in an hour, collectively they waste around 1,800-3,600 hours, amounting to a daily wastage of Rs.30-60 million and adding up to Rs.10 billion annually, said Ajay D’Souza, head, CRISIL Research.

“The changeover to ETC will eliminate waiting time of vehicles and the savings in fuel (Rs.10 billion annually) would far outweigh the initial cost of Rs.100 per vehicle that the new system would require from vehicle owners,” D’Souza said.

The ETC is expected to be implemented in phases, with pilot projects scheduled to come up on dense highway stretches.

The ETC is based on radio frequency identification, comprising a wireless on-board unit fitted into a vehicle and a stationary roadside unit placed at the toll plazas. The on-board unit is designed to be compatible at toll plazas around the country.

The roadside unit can sense a vehicle’s on-board unit even at 50 kmph and automatically deduct toll from the owner’s prepaid toll account with a central clearing house.

This would eliminate waiting time and ease congestion at toll plazas, said Prasad Koparkar of CRISIL Research.

He said the system was also equipped to detect defaults in toll collections which occurred either due to insufficient funds in a toll account or a faulty on-board unit by activating an alarm to alert the officials without disrupting the traffic flow.

“Besides the fuel savings, ETC can plug an estimated 10 percent leakage in toll collection, arising out of booth operators under-reporting collections or vehicles not paying up,” he said.

Based on current industry estimates, the annual losses for the road developers from the leakages alone were around Rs.12 billion which the ETC can eliminate.

The NHAI would be required to invest in two major system components to enable collections flow to the toll operators – a central database where the clearing house will store the account information and networks to connect toll plazas to that central database.

This will enable revenues from the tolled stretches to flow directly to the toll operators concerned through the central clearing house.

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