FASTag spells chaos, takes toll on traffic

Serpentine queues witnessed at Dappar plaza cash lanes | Initial hiccups, say authorities

FASTag spells chaos, takes toll on traffic

Satinder Pal Singh

Lalru, December 15

The 15-day leeway that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had sought for the implementation of FASTag was not of much help at the Dappar toll plaza here today. It only compounded the woes of commuters as they found themselves stranded in 1-km-long queues at cash lanes.

Serpentine queues of passenger and commercial vehicles were witnessed at the toll plaza at the entry and exit points. Heated arguments were witnessed between commuters and toll plaza staff.

There was traffic congestion at the toll plaza as several commuters did not have FASTags and used the cash lanes, officials said.

An official of GMR Expressway Highway Private Limited said of the 12 lanes, four each on both sides were equipped with FASTag devices and two lanes each had been kept for collection of toll through cash.

Marshals deployed at the toll plaza were seen verifying whether vehicles were equipped with the radio-frequency identification (RFID) stickers on their windshield before letting them proceed to the cash lanes or FASTag lanes.

Though the toll plaza has dedicated lanes, several commuters who did not have balance in their FASTag account continued to queue up in the lane. “After reaching the counter, commuters realise that they don’t have balance in their FASTag account and end up paying cash. This causes inconvenience to others waiting in the lane,” said an official.

Vishal Gupta, Chief General Manager-cum-Regional Officer, said: “If things are unmanageable and require intervention, then these will be taken up with the higher authorities and an appropriate solution will be worked out. The problem right now is of managing those who enter the FASTag lane and pay cash. Marshals have to take them aside to avoid jams.”

He said based on the situation during the first few days, necessary steps would be taken to tweak the system according to the convenience of the commuters. The toll authorities had been making regular announcements through the public address system, putting up hoardings and distributing pamphlets. Confusion also prevailed among commuters over the use of FASTag. Several commuters appreciated the move saying it will bring transparency. However, they expressed concern over linking their bank accounts to their FASTag wallets as they were not sure whether it is secure. “I think the online regime will certainly reduce time and queues at the toll plazas but the security of users’ bank accounts remains a concern,” said Arun, a daily commuter.

Drivers of trucks and other commercial vehicles were among satisfied users. A truck driver said: “Our FASTag account is recharged by the fleet owner and is convenient and saves a lot of time.”

Managers at the toll plaza said there would be chaos initially. The authorities said they had given a 30-day relaxation period to commuters. Depending upon the situation, they could increase or decrease the number of cash lanes at the plaza.

How FASTag operates

  • FASTag works on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.
  • Under this system, toll payments can be made directly from the prepaid or savings account linked to the system.
  • FASTag is affixed to the windscreen of the vehicle. Vehicle can be driven through toll plazas without making a stopover for transactions

Heated arguments

  • Serpentine queues of passenger and commercial vehicles witnessed at the toll plaza
  • Heated arguments witnessed between commuters and toll plaza staff

Public address system being used

  • The toll authorities have been making regular announcements through the public address system, putting up hoardings and distributing pamphlets. Besides, each vehicle owner without a FASTag is being approached and told about of its benefits.

Not sure whether account is secure

  • Several commuters appreciated the move saying it will bring transparency. However, they expressed concern over linking of their bank accounts with their FASTag wallets saying they were not sure whether it is secure.

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