Sloppy start to FASTag move

Vehicle queues up to 1 km at Ladhowal barrier; system glitches also to blame

Ludhiana: FASTag scanning faces technical issues; long queues of vehicles seen at Ladhowal toll plaza

Nikhil Bhardwaj

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 15

On the first day of FASTag move of the Centre, commuters faced huge inconvenience, some of them alleging that technical glitches in the system caused long traffic jams at the Ladhowal toll plaza on the Ludhiana-Phillaur road today.

The Union Government today relaxed norms at the toll plazas by one more month with regard to making FASTag mandatory on national highway toll barriers. Now, commuters can either use FASTag or pay cash at the toll barrier till January 15. But after one month, FASTag will be mandatory.

During a visit to the Ladhowal toll plaza, long queues of vehicles up to about 1 km were witnessed. Technical glitches coupled with problems related to pasting of FASTags on vehicles were cited as the reason. Commuters were seen arguing with the toll barrier staff for causing the delay.

Although the toll barrier authorities had earlier claimed that with the implementation of FASTag scheme, a vehicle will just take 10-15 seconds to cross, it was found that vehicles were taking 5-10 minutes on an average to cross the barrier.

Gurjit Singh, a Phagwara-based person, said: “He had bought a FASTag through Paytm. Today when he was headed to Ludhiana, he was stuck in a traffic jam at the Ladhowal toll barrier. Queues stretched up to the Shani temple near the Sutlej bridge, which is more than 1 km from the barrier. It took me 40 minutes to reach the barrier. The moment I reached there, the toll barrier scanner failed to scan the FASTag pasted on my car’s windscreen.

“The staff asked me to position the car at the right spot beneath the scanner. When I positioned my car right at that point, the staff told me that my FASTag wallet had no balance. But I had Rs 330 in my wallet, still I faced inconvenience.”

Finally, the staff scanned his FASTag with a hand-held scanner..

Toll plaza officials didn’t respond to the phone calls made by this correspondent.

Sources said on an average, 40,000-50,000 vehicles daily crossed the toll barrier through around 20 lanes where FASTag scanners had been installed. There is one lane where a commuter can cross the barrier by paying in cash.

Vehicles using FASTag to cross the barrier had accounted for 25 per cent traffic in the past few weeks.

Scanners fail to read tags

Ramesh Arora, a commuter, said the scanner failed to scan the FASTag of his car, and he had to pay toll in cash. He had been stuck in the jam for half an hour. The staff was also seen asking drivers to run wipers to clean windscreen so that the scanner could read the FASTag swiftly.

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