It’s a no brainer that India is witnessing a paradigm shift in infrastructure and development for last few years. Given the Indian population, which recently surpassed China as the most populated country at 1.43B, development of more roads and highways and expressways is a key driver in overall progress of the country. Use of technology has a lot to contribute here as well.
FASTag, a technological solution aimed at simplifying toll collection for 26m vehicles running at highways and expressways is one such example.
In November, 2014 FASTag was first implemented on Delhi-Mumbai arm of the quadrilateral and by 2019, it was made compulsory for all vehicles in India and it now accounts for 97% of all toll collection on vehicles running on expressways and highways. This electronic toll collection grew 46% to 50,855 crore Indian Rupees in 2022 from 34,778 crore in 2021. But toll collection is not the only benefit from FASTags. It has several other benefits in terms of toll experience for drivers, environmental benefits etc.
What is FASTag RFID (toll collection system)?
FASTag RFID is an automated toll collection system that utilizes the wireless radio-frequency identification technology (RFID) to automatically process vehicle toll payments at Indian highways. FASTag has revolutionized toll collection on Indian highways and expressways since it was rolled out by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) in 2016 for non-stop toll plazas.
Going into the details of a FASTag, it consists of an RFID chip and antenna and uses radio frequency signals to transmit data to an RFID reader/scanner fixed at a toll plaza. When a vehicle equipped with FASTag, at the windshield as mandated by the Govt., passes through a toll plaza, the toll is automatically deducted from the digital wallet linked to the FASTag.
The radio frequency identification technology is an AIDC tool that has gained prominence over the last decade and businesses across the world are using this technology for automatic identification and data capture applications. The technology is quite efficient and accurate when it comes to automatic tag detection and data capture. Being wireless, it does not need a clear line of sight to function and provides a good read range of 12-15m (Passive UHF RFID).
FASTag RFID is automating toll collection and reducing carbon emissions: Benefits of FASTag
Before the implementation of FASTag, toll collection was a time-consuming and labor-intensive process that often caused traffic congestion on highways. People driving cars and other vehicles had to stop at toll booths, pay the toll in cash, and receive a receipt. Due to the large number of vehicles on Indian highways, this process often caused significant delays, resulting in long lines of vehicles waiting to pay their tolls.
But with FASTag RFID, the process of toll collection has been completely automated. All it takes is installing a small RFID tag, known as FASTag (a clever name I’d say) on the windshield of a vehicle and linking it to a prepaid account, the toll payment is automatically taken out of the account as the vehicle passes through a toll plaza.
The full form of FASTag is simply FAST TAG, an RFID tag that enables fast toll collection and fast movement of vehicles on highways and expressways.
This automated process not only saves time for drivers, but it also reduces carbon emissions to a great extent and helps the environment. With reduced waiting times at toll plazas, vehicles no longer have to idle for long periods, which cuts down on carbon emissions.
According to NHAI, the average waiting time across 488 toll booths was 12 minutes, leading to congestions lasting as long as 30-35 minutes at highways. In peak seasons, it goes up to 1-2 hours and more. The reduction in carbon emissions due to reduced idling of vehicles is estimated to be around 3,438 tons per annum and it helps India’s efforts to cut down the carbon footprint by 35% by 2030.
Apart from that, FASTag RFID has also decreased the number of toll plaza accidents resulting from drivers making hasty movements to avoid long lines at toll booths. As per reports, there has been a remarkable decrease in accidents caused by delay while the vehicle was approaching the toll booth in which vehicles rear-ended each other.
Moreover, the implementation of FASTag has decreased the wastage of paper that was used for printing toll receipts resulting in a reduction in the overall amount of paper used in toll operations, contributing to the protection of the environment.
To conclude, the implementation of the FASTag RFID system has made toll collection in India more efficient and environment-friendly. By reducing traffic congestion, decreasing carbon emissions and paper wastage, it has immense benefits for both drivers and the environment. Adopting the usage of the FASTag system by all Indians can result in reducing the impact of pollution even further.