FASTag Mandatory For All Vehicles
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
In News: The ministry of road transport and highways has made the use of FASTags—essentially windshield stickers with embedded radio frequency chips that can be read by sensors at toll plazas—mandatory and cash counters will be steadily shrunk at the 500-plus toll plazas around the country to make cashless payments the norm.
Now that FASTags are mandatory and new cars anyway come with these attached, road-pricing should actually be easier to implement everywhere.
What is FASTag?
- It is the Electronic Toll Collection program on toll plazas by National Highway Authority of India.
- Works on the principle of Radio Frequency Identification
Process: The tag needs to be affixed to the windscreen of the vehicle in such a way that the sensor at the toll plaza can read it.
- The tag can be purchased from official Tag issuers or participating Banks and if it is linked to a prepaid account, then recharging or top-up can be as per requirement.
- As per NHAI, FASTag has unlimited validity.
- A FASTag is linked to a bank account. When a vehicle passes through a toll, an SMS with date, time and place of transaction will be sent to the owner of the vehicle.
In January 2019, state-run oil marketing companies IOC, BPCL and HPCL have signed MoUs enabling the use of FASTag to make purchases at petrol pumps.
- FASTags are likely to reduce the nation’s GDP loss by bringing down loss of fuel while waiting at toll plazas.
- Doing away with cash collections as cash collections are often used by toll operators to pay off politicians who may have done them some favours.
- Road-pricing will be easier to implement everywhere.
- Reduce congestion: If every FASTagged car is charged, say, ₹10 every time it enters or exits a congested zone, money will be generated that will not only fund a small part of the expansion in public transport infrastructure, but also help reduce congestion and pollution.
- Promotes digital payments and makes it easier to keep tabs on vehicles and the toll booths.
- Cost of storage and transportation of cash as well as manpower at the toll booths comes down.
- It helps avoid traffic build-up at toll booths and save fuel expended by vehicles during the wait.
- Reports indicate that the government plans to use data from the devices used in electronic toll collection to monitor traffic and rework its toll policy as well.
The Way Forward
The expanding use of FASTags for the payment of toll on highways should be seen as an opportunity to formulate and articulate a clear strategy on road-pricing and public transport.
- Once the scheme works well with cars, two-wheelers and three-wheelers, too, should be brought within the ambit of city road pricing.
- Better rules in place: What states ought to do is regulate pricing less and focus more on improving things such as safety and security, including the setting up of call centres to help customers in distress. There also ought to be heavier punishments for drivers refusing to ply when it suits them.
- Allow private cars that are currently underused to be converted to part-time Ubers and Olas. This will expand the idea of shared mobility at a much lower cost to both customers and drivers—and boost jobs for drivers.
- The world’s first electronic toll plaza began operations in Norway in 1986.
- Japan was the first Asian Country to begin it in 2001 and China started in 2014.
Connecting the Dots:
- The future of mobility is shared, tolled and publicly-funded mass transport. Discuss.
- Can technologies that eliminate human intervention in governance completely obviate the need of establishing a value driven administration? Critically examine.