Despite 97% of tolling occurring via FASTags, congestion at toll plazas on national highways still has an impact on commuters. Because of this, the Road Transport and Highways Ministry is going forward with a plan to install Automatic Number Plate Reader (ANPR) cameras in place of toll booths.
National highways will no longer have toll booths; instead, ANPR cameras will read licence plates and automatically deduct tolls from the associated bank accounts of car owners.
The model is straightforward: Toll will be deducted based on cameras at the entrance and exit of toll roads that can scan licence plates.
Only number plates that were installed after 2019 will be detected by the cameras because not all number plates in India can be read.
In 2019, the government established a rule requiring company-fitted number plates for passenger vehicles. Only these number plates can be read by cameras. The administration intends to devise a plan to replace outdated licence plates.
This programme is now being tested, and legislation is being moved to make the changeover easier and to punish drivers who avoid toll booths and refuse to pay.
Currently, FASTags account for 97% of the over Rs 40,000 crore in total toll revenue; the remaining 3% pay higher than usual toll rates as a result of not using FASTags.
According to government data, using FASTags reduces the time it takes for a vehicle to cross a toll plaza by about 47 seconds, and there is a noticeable throughput improvement – more than 260 vehicles can be processed per hour via electronic toll collection lane as opposed to 112 vehicles per hour via manual toll collection lane.
Despite the fact that FASTags have reduced congestion at toll plazas across the nation, there are still toll gates that must be passed through following authentication. In addition to using ANPR to reduce traffic, the government is also considering using GPS technology.
The development of an ecosystem that is compatible with the needs of the camera is essential for the success of ANPR cameras.
The largest issue during the trials is when additional information, such as “govt of India/Delhi” and the names of Gods, is inscribed on licence plates beyond the nine-digit registration number.
Truck number plates pose another challenge for ANPR cameras because they are frequently obscured, dirty, etc.
A pilot on a major freeway discovered that 10% of vehicles with these number plates go unnoticed by ANPR cameras.