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Drivers working in the commercial and trade sector know that being on the road is no easy feat. They are subject to a variety of problems. Issues for them range from bad weather to finding the correct routes to the pressure of making deliveries on time. However, after a conversation with different lorry drivers, we were able to conclude that the biggest challenge they face in their job is wearisome and never ending toll queues. In this article, we will be discussing the FASTag problems and their solutions in detail.
While intra-city drivers may be oblivious to this problem, inter-city drivers have a different story to tell. “I dread looking at my delivery schedule at the beginning of the month, lest I be tasked with a consignment delivery out of state. It is not the driving that bothers me; it is the idle time that I spend unnecessarily at toll booths!”, said one driver from a reputed e-commerce shipment organisation we spoke with.
It is not just the long lines that bother the drivers, we learnt. It is also the time that it takes them on the toll booth itself when their turn comes to make the payment. The time spent in handing over the money, waiting for the tariff to be calculated, collecting the change and then waiting for the receipt adds to their frustrations.
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The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) got to know from a report carried out by the Transport Corporation of India (TCI), in a joint venture with IIM Kolkata, that India incurs roughly a loss of USD 6.6 billion per year on account of transportation delays. This spurred them on to compel the Indian government to integrate Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) as soon as possible.
This move led to the inception of FASTag, a hassle-free option for the payer and the collector for smooth and efficient toll plaza operations. The bid was to simplify toll collection on all highways across India. To reduce human error, wasteful time depletion and needless fuel consumption, FASTag came into the picture in the Indian transportation industry.
Implementation of anything new brings with it certain challenges. And FASTag is no exception. Below we talk about what FASTag exactly is, what are the FASTag problems that this move has faced so far and what possible solutions can be there to overcome these hurdles.
FASTag is an easy and efficient way of handling toll payments on national highways. It is a Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) enabled tag that propagates automatic deduction of toll payment. The tag comes with the feature to be reloaded as per your requirement, or can be linked to a prepaid account from where the money will be automatically deducted. The FASTag is fixed onto the commercial vehicle or passenger vehicle’s windscreen and when it passes through the toll booth, the tag is automatically scanned and the money is appropriately deducted.
Currently, FASTag ETC is implemented in over 180 toll plazas across all national and state highways in India.
Benefits of FASTag
There are plenty of benefits of FASTag. Employing this tag helps in:
- Saving time
- Making payments easily
- Unhindered movement on national and state highways
- Online, seamless recharge top-ups
- Getting SMS notifications about toll deductions, FASTag account balance
- Having access to an online portal, where you can sign up to recharge your account, or raise queries with the support staff
- Being stress-free about the validity of the card, since it is valid for a good 5 years
- Reducing your carbon footprint, since you save idling on toll booths and reduce vehicular emissions
- Driving in cohesion with other vehicles on the road, since lack of long queues reduces tension among drivers
- Getting value for your money, since FASTag can subject you to periodic discounts and assured cashbacks.
FASTag Problems and Solutions
There are two sides to every coin. And talking about the dime that is FASTag, it has its fair share of drawbacks and concerns that are felt by many new and current users. Our encounters with various drivers and fleet owners led us to compile some of the roadblocks that they face with FASTag. Along with that, we were even able to identify some concerns that they came up with that may pose as a problem for this ETC program in the future.
As we go through each of the FASTag problems, we will also provide a solution to triumph over these difficulties.
Challenge #1: Loss of FASTag
The first and the most common concern that came up was the distress expressed by the drivers about loss of their FASTags. The worry stems from the fact that since this card is affixed as a tag on the windscreen, it can be subject to theft or loss.
Solution #1: In this scenario, you can immediately notify the issuing agency or bank about the theft/loss. They can then process blocking the account and can help you with obtaining another tag.
Challenge #2: Technical glitch
There may be times when the toll charge may be deducted twice from your account, in the wake of a technical error. Other than that, you may face the issue of your FASTag not working. What this essentially means is that your vehicle may go through the RFID scanner, and it is not able to detect your FASTag.
Solution #2: The bank your tag account is registered with can help you with this. By going on your FASTag customer portal, you can register a claim regarding double deduction of toll amount, and can put in a request for a recompensation.
Challenge #3: Unauthorised cars in the FASTag lanes
It is not uncommon for drivers to wait for their turns longer than expected in FASTag lanes due to vehicles without FASTag falling in the queue. This increases their wait time significantly, which is one of the major FASTag problems faced by many. Moreover, drivers feel that this defeats the entire purpose of ETC and designated lanes.
Solution #3: There need to be stringent measures to ensure that the entry way into the designated FASTag lanes also has a scanner. This scanner will be the means to detect the card securely attached on the windscreen of vehicles. This will ensure that entry is allowed only to automobiles that have FASTag. And when these measures are in place, the user satisfaction and time saving opportunities will grow manifold.
Challenge #4: Blacklisted FASTag
This issue is a fairly common prevalence for RFID users. A FASTag gets blacklisted in the event the user fails to maintain adequate balance in their FASTag wallet. Thus if the user tries to pass through the toll gates with insufficient balance in their FASTag account, they would not be able to avail the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) services, forcing them to pay via cash.
Solution #4: For FASTag problems of this nature, the solution is absolutely simple. As a user of FASTag, one must be aware of the current balance in their account, such that they do not end up facing this challenge. Regular top-ups of the wallet is a must to ensure seamless passage through toll plazas.
The intent of NHAI with FASTag was to develop a scheme whose benefits would outweigh the drawbacks. And to ensure a good experience for the user and the collecting authorities, it is important that the issues are addressed as soon as possible. The government needs to be mindful of these FASTag problems, as they strive ahead to make all national and state highway toll plazas ETC equipped.
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