GPS Based Toll Collection

The news of GPS based toll collection has been doing rounds ever since the Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari announced about it a long time ago. The government plans to remove all the toll plazas or toll booths and enable GPS based toll collection. FASTag has already been made mandatory for four-wheelers that leads to the automatic deduction of toll tax through Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. It happens when one approaches the toll gate where the vehicle drivers need not stop for a few seconds so that the toll tax amount gets deducted automatically. All you need to do is to buy a FASTag from Paytm and link it to your Paytm wallet. Now, the plan is to enable GPS monitoring of the vehicle movement for the purpose of toll collection.

How will GPS-Based Toll Collection Work?

To enable GPS based toll collection, it will be necessary for all vehicles to have a GPS (Global Positioning System). As the government plans, it will be through the equipment of a micro-controller with third-generation (3G) and GPS connectivity. The government can acquire the GPS coordinates of the moving vehicles and constantly track them. Hence, they will know the route of the traveling vehicles and what toll roads they take. They can check how many toll gates they pass through and estimate the total toll tax.

At present, one toll gate exists at the end of one stretch of a toll road, or one project. One project/stretch refers to that section of the toll road which is under a particular contractor for construction and maintenance. The distance between two toll gates is usually 60kms (may differ by a few kilometers). The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has fixed toll rates for different types of vehicles for 60 km. If the road stretch is less than 60 km, then toll tax is collected accordingly.

How will it be Different from FASTag?

FASTag undoubtedly is a fast-forward step in digital India. It uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for an automatic deduction of toll tax. All you need to do is get this reloadable tag and affix it on the windshield of your vehicle. In addition to this, you need to link your FASTag with your bank account/prepaid wallet for automatic debit of the toll amount. The NHAI, in integration with the banks and online payment platforms, provides FASTags to its users through both, online and offline modes. All toll booths have FASTag scanners that can detect them and deduct the toll tax amount. So, when you travel through a toll road and approach a toll booth, you need not stop for a long duration.

However, GPS based toll collection will differ from FASTag because it will track you throughout. It will be vigilant of vehicle movement and collect the toll tax through GPS imaging. Automatic deduction in FASTags happens only when you approach the toll plaza. It is speculated that the NHAI may use GPS-enabled FASTags for GPS-based toll-tax collection.

FASTagGPS Based Toll Collection
Use of RFID TechnologyUse of GPS system in vehicles
Automatic Deduction through FASTag scanner at toll boothsDeduction through tracking of GPS coordinates
Detected only when the vehicles approach a toll boothEntire travel route to be tracked
Toll booths need to be stationedThis will lead to the removal of all physical toll booths and toll plazas
Mandatory and in practice since February 2021To be implemented around 2022 as planned by the government

Wrapping it up:

GPS based toll collection will be a milestone in the use of technology, digitalization, and smooth traveling. It will save time for the drivers and travelers as neither they will have to wait in long queues nor will they have to stop at every toll booth. They can make payments at once through online platforms. However, privacy remains a concern if the government tracks the entire movement of vehicles. As the GPS based toll collection is still in the development stage, we are yet to see its pros and cons. For now, FASTag is mandatory and facilitates electronic toll payment in the best possible way. This also helps in smooth, non-stop driving to save time without having to stop at pesky toll plazas.

FAQs
Is FASTag GPS enabled?
No, FASTag is not GPS enabled as of now but uses RFID technology. It does not track the vehicle movement but helps only in electronic payment. However, it may use GPS FASTags for GPS based toll collection.
What if I don’t have FASTag?
FASTag has been made mandatory from 15 February 2021. If you fail to have a FASTag affixed on your four-wheeled vehicle, you will end up paying a fine as a result, perhaps double the toll amount.
Why is GPS-based toll collection introduced when there is FASTag already?
GPS-based toll collection will help in the removal of physical booths as well eliminate the chances of toll tax theft/GST evasion. Some vehicles take an alternate route to escape the toll booth and some do not have FASTags. GPS toll collection will prevent it.
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