Zip through National Highways by Using FASTag
Manually-driven toll plazas suffer from many bottlenecks – long waiting lines and slow-moving traffic.
Hence, a decision to overcome this problem on the National Highways of India was devised. From 1st December 2019, manual booths at about 420+ odd toll plazas on various National Highways and under the governance of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have been enabled with electronic FASTag to allow automatic traffic movement across the boom barrier on the plazas.
Except for the hybrid lane that will have a manual system for collection of toll charges, which means that from now on, only vehicles with FASTag RFId sticker can pass through the toll plazas. In fact, most of the automobiles sold in the last couple of years come with FASTag pre-affixed.
So, from now on, no more stopping at toll plazas to pay toll charges to a toll collector.
How FASTag works?
FASTag works with a technology called RFID or Radio Frequency Identification Technology. The RFID tag is fixed to the front windscreen of cars. As soon as a car with the tag nears the boom barrier at a toll plaza, the electronic system installed on the barrier is able to read the RFID tag and automatically opens the toll gate once the amount is deducted.
It is akin to how Metro smart cards in transport access-control systems work. The payment for the RFID tag gets deducted from a prepaid account or needs to be initiated by the user from his/her savings account.
A FASTag that gets paid from a prepaid account, the user would be required to recharge the card every time the balance is below a certain specified limit. Prepaid accounts include electronic wallets, credit or debit card.
In case of the tag is paid from the savings account of the user, every time the balance goes down, it will get credited automatically from the account.
A FASTag affixed to the windscreen will be valid for a period of five years. Every time toll charges are deducted from the prepaid account or savings account, the user will receive an SMS alert.
The Tag can be brought from either through electronic websites and applications like SBI, ICICI Bank, Paytm etc. Similarly, it can also be purchased from 27,000 Point-of-sale counters set by the NHAI at Road Transport Authority Offices, Transport Hubs, specific petrol pumps and the branches of 22 banks that are responsible for issuing these tags.
The list of the 22 banks has been provided below in the box.
A one-time fee of Rs.100 is applicable on first-time buy.
Refundable security of Rs. 150 will also be charged during first-time buy
Additionally, users get a 2.5% cashback for every FASTag transaction.
What documents are required to buy a FASTag?
Vehicle registration certificate copy with a photo of the automobile are required. However, banks might ask for more documents.
What happens if I do not buy the FASTag?
You will have to pay twice the toll charge in this case,
What about people living close to toll plazas?
People staying within a radius of 10 km from Toll Plazas will get a discount on the toll amount. To avail this, residents are required to proceed to the Fastag purchase procedure (as per the government notification) and submit their residence proof to the closest POS counter for verification. After address validation, the FASTag amount will be discounted.
Are there any issues so far?
Tags sold by NHAI counters are bank-neutral which means that users can recharge the tag using any bank account. On the contrary, bank issued tags can be recharged only from the bank account of the said bank.
At the moment there are some teething problems. SMS alerts are not coming in on time while the tag-reader on the barrier is often unable to read the car-affixed tag. It is because of these issues; the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has instructed the NHAI and IHMCL (Indian Highway Management Company Limited) to have the toll plazas covered by nodal officers so that the issues can be tackled on-the-spot.
There are Ministry-appointed Prabharis to ensure smooth implementation. Users can also call the toll-free number of NHAI ‘1033’ for any tag-related issues. Users can also use the My FASTag App to contact customer care while bank helplines numbers can be accessed at ihmcl.com
How did the FASTag idea originate?
After demonetization, Prime Minister announced the Digital India Movement. It was then that Nitin Gadkari, the Road Transport & Highways Minister thought of having the traffic movement on National Highways digitized.
Since the government had made several attempts to popularize FASTag in the past, it was decided that by making FASTag mandatory, traffic on National Highways could be made electronic. It has been going well so far with volume sales. Also, the announcement that the government was bearing the value towards security deposit till 1st December also made a significant impact.
Are state highways also part of this scheme?
At the moment state highways are not part of this scheme though NHAI has started efforts to get all states implement the ‘One Nation One FASTag’. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana have recently signed the MoU for implementation of FASTags in their states.
Details of 22 Banks
Axis Bank; ICICI; IDFC; SBI; HDFC; Karur Vysya Bank; Equitas Small Finance Bank; PayTM Payments Bank; Kotak Mahindra; Syndicate Bank; Federal Bank; South Indian Bank; PNB; Saraswat Bank; Fino Payments; City Union Bank; BoB; IndusInd; Yes Bank; Union Bank; Nagpur Nagarik Sahakari Bank; Airtel Payments Bank