The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in India undertook a pilot project for transactions (toll collection via electronic means, etc.) via an RFID based system ("FASTag") for road users in 2014. By December 2019, the system was mandated with all but one toll lane (in each direction) accepting transactions via cash across all national highways. By February 2021, all toll lanes were mandatory FASTag only, and no cash transactions (without penalty) were being accepted. The percentage of transactions via FASTag has increased to nearly 97% in FY22 as compared to 16-17% in FY18.
This rapid increase in adoption of electronic transactions is solving a critical issue of data being reported for each toll plaza. The data reported was earlier dependent on individual toll plazas and the reporting systems adopted by that toll operator. With the advent of FASTag, the transactions are now being recorded on the NETC servers (https://www.npci.org.in/what-we-do/netc-fastag/product-overview), which acts as an almost independent third party, resulting in a reliable source of data. Since penetration levels only reached 90%+ by Q1FY22, the historical availability of such data sets is still very limited. As transport forecasters, good quality historical data is a key input. Reliable historical toll plaza data will go a long way in developing confidence in analysing the historical performance of the asset under consideration.
Other significant benefits of FASTag include much lower waiting times at toll plazas for users, resulting in fuel and carbon savings in addition to a better level of service for users.