Toll Plaza

FASTag scanning devices to get more efficient, help in reducing delays

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is taking significant steps to enhance the efficiency of toll plaza operations by introducing new, more reliable FASTag scanning devices. These devices are expected to address the technical issues that have plagued the system, causing delays and traffic congestion.

FASTag, an RFID technology-based system, has revolutionised toll payments in India by allowing for automatic deductions as vehicles pass through toll plazas. However, the current equipment often fails to scan the FASTag in a single attempt, disrupting the otherwise seamless cashless payment process and leading to bottlenecks at major toll plazas.

To mitigate these problems, NHAI has mandated a comprehensive overhaul of the IT infrastructure and hardware used at toll plazas. Only vendors using equipment certified by the Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) Directorate of the Ministry of Electronics and IT will be empanelled. The certification will apply to all critical components, including RFID readers, antennas, automatic number plate readers, toll lane controllers and toll plaza servers.

Under the new guidelines, system integrators must assure the Indian Highways Management Company Ltd (IHMCL) that any deviations caused by their equipment will result in immediate suspension and forfeiture of their bank guarantees. This measure aims to hold vendors accountable and ensure that only high-quality, reliable equipment is used.

An official from NHAI explained, “We are taking a two-pronged approach to address the issues people face due to technical reasons. First, only experienced entities can get empanelled and their equipment must be certified by a credible government agency. We are also deploying engineers at NHAI’s regional offices for better monitoring and resolution of issues.”

The technical failures of the current FASTag systems have led to situations where toll plaza workers must direct vehicles to move back and forth to achieve a successful scan. In extreme cases, handheld devices are used, which undermines the efficiency of the system. The new measures are expected to significantly reduce such occurrences, ensuring a smoother and faster toll payment process.

FASTag was made mandatory for all vehicles on 15th December, 2019, with the deadline later extended to 16th February, 2021. Each FASTag is valid for five years from the date of purchase and can be easily recharged via websites using net banking or UPI.

With these improvements, NHAI aims to enhance the user experience at toll plazas, reducing delays and ensuring a more efficient toll collection process.

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