With the aim to end congestion at toll plazas and to ensure no leakage of toll revenue, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has recently introduced ‘FASTags’’. Fixed on the front windscreen of vehicles, FASTags uses radio frequency identification technology and allows vehicles to pass through toll plazas, currently through designated lanes, without waiting in the queue as the payment is made electronically. Though the government has dedicated one lane of 371 toll plazas, mostly the innermost lane on both sides to be used as the exclusive tolling booth, with FASTags becoming mandatory for four-wheelers before they come out of factories or dealerships since December 1, the ministry of road transport and highways is betting big on technology. So far over 7.5 lakh FASTags have been sold across the country and according to transport minister Nitin Gadkari, this number would grow to 25 lakh vehicles by March 2018. A total of 3,500 lanes on national highways would be made FASTag ready in the coming two months.
FASTags can be bought online and offline through common services centres (CSCs) near toll plazas. NHAI has recently launched two mobile apps—one for retail users and other for agencies who are enrolled as FASTag Partners. While My FASTag is a customer mobile app on which one can purchase and recharge the FASTag and keep track of the electronic toll collection transactions, the another app—FASTag Partner—can be used by agencies, CSCs and vehicle dealers to upgrade the RFID tags attached in 74 lakh vehicles sold since 2013 to FASTags. According to NHAI chairman Deepak Kumar, the cumbersome method of purchase and recharge of FASTags has been one of the major challenges with the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) project. The mobile apps will ease the process, making it possible to buy or recharge FASTags at the click of a mobile button.
Apart from toll plazas, FASTags can be bought from banks and mobile payment wallet companies which the NHAI have signed up with. Currently, banks like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Syndicate Bank, Axis Bank, IDFC Bank and State Bank of India and payments banks like Paytm offer FASTags. The best part of FASTags is seamless integration with different stakeholders. One can easily transfer the money to FASTag account from linked wallet or bank account and then to NHAI every time the vehicle passed the toll plazas. The user gets the electronic record of trips through SMS and same is available with linked account or wallet.