In 2018, there were certain videos on the internet that said one need not pay toll tax if they have been waiting behind the yellow line at a booth. This lead to several skirmishes with the toll operators (who had no idea such a thing existed) and the drivers. However, now this rule has been enforced. A document from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways says that road users in a four-wheeler need not pay toll if they have been waiting at the toll plaza for more than 10 seconds. At the same time, toll plazas have been instructed to draw a yellow line 100 metres before the booth entry. If there are vehicles behind the yellow line, then the toll operator will have to let the cars ahead go without paying the tax. This is being done ” to ensure service time of not more than 10 seconds per vehicle even during peak hours at the toll plazas on the National Highways.”
The document also claims that at present, there is no wait time at toll plazas especially because customers have all switched to FasTags. The NHAI claims to have transitioned to 100 per cent cashless tolling from the middle of February 2021, the overall FASTag penetration at NHAI toll plazas has reached 96 per cent, whereas at someplace, it stands at 99 per cent. Given that the electronic toll penetration has grown in size, the upcoming toll plazas can be constructed as per traffic projections for next 10 years to have an efficient toll collection system.
FasTag helps in maintaining social distancing because there is minimal contact between the customer and the operator. However, this aforementioned rule’s implementation might be a problem. It will work on the cash lane but not on the FasTag as the moment the car approaches the toll window, the system will auto deduct the toll amount. If there is some means by which the toll operator decides to stop this practice, then it can work. Moreover, one also needs to think why will the toll operator focus on making a revenue to his company. It is also unclear if the commuter has to tell the operator that such a rule exists or it is on the onus of the toll plazas to inform their employees of the same.
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