In India, the last years have shown a growing urban population with rising incomes, which translates into a burgeoning number of vehicles on the road. The top 5 cities in India carried in 2012 over 20 million vehicles and over 150 million vehicles nationwide. With the ever growing of vehicle population in India, grows the number of cars driving on national highways. The method of manual toll collection, with or without using computer generated receipts, became inefficient, prone to leakage and difficult to sustain whereby payment required vehicles to stop at toll plazas and wait a relatively long time for their turn to come. The current state of congestion and operational inefficiency at toll plazas prompted the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRT&H) in 2011 to induct technology to make travel across Indian National highways seamless, to facilitate convenience for subscribers, and transparency & efficiency for operators. An apex committee was formed to evaluate the available technologies for Electronic Toll Collection.
Selecting the right technology and business model
Considering user convenience, rate of acceptance and ease of implementation, the first Committee constituted by MoRT&H recommended the mechanism of Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) to enable a near non-stop travel for highway commuters across the Country.
Some of the benefits National interoperable Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system has are:
- Functioning at toll plazas becomes more efficient.
- Transport operators will be able to track fleet movement.
- Toll road users drive non-stop without bothering about toll rates or money change.
- Same tag is read at toll plaza on all the Highways across the country.
- Saving paper as well as fuel.
The committee has issued its recommendations on various ETC system aspects and tracking project progress:
- A key component for implementation of Nationwide RFID based ETC is interoperability, which requires integration and standardization.
- The tag on the vehicle needs to be read by all the transceivers and at the same time, all the tags should be read by a particular transceiver. Therefore, the requirement is to operate with transceivers and tags with certain common specifications.
- While these specifications on the transceiver and tag need to be adhered to mandatorily to be a part of the ETC system, the Committee also defined functional requirements of the Automatic Vehicle Identification system and data exchange formats.
The committee recommended adopting the passive RFID technology conferred to EPC, Gen-2, ISO 18000-6C standards. The system involves a self-adhesive tag affixed on the windshield of vehicle getting read by transceivers installed at toll plazas.
Setting the ground for successful deployment
After deciding on the technology, MORT&H (Ministry of Road Transport & Highways) and NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) have moved forward to jointly establish IHMCL (Indian Highways Management Company Ltd.) with its Concessionaires and Financial Institutions incorporated to carryout Electronic Tolling and other ancillary projects of NHAI.
IHMCL decided to use Public Private Partnership to build world class highways all over India as toll roads. Public Private Partnership (also called ‘PPP’) is a government service or private business venture which is funded and operated through a partnership of government and one or more private sector companies.
Next immediate challenge was to de-congest the highways on the toll Plazas and reduce the vehicle waiting time aiming at providing a better service to road users with reduced carbon footprints. IHMCL has floated an international tender for Supply, Installation and maintenance of 102 public funded toll Plazas across the country. Two system integrators and service providers, Tecsidel Toll Systems India Private Ltd. and VaaaN infra Pvt Ltd, have won the tender. The tendered required that by end of 2015, 204 Lanes at 102 toll plazas location spread all over the country need to be installed with electronic toll collection system based on the RFID architecture proposed by IHMCL. From Q1 2016 deployment of multi lane per toll plazas will start.
Star Systems International
Star Systems International (SSI), with its expertise in RFID Electronic Toll Collection equipment and know how in implementing the technology, was carefully chosen by two companies to provide the suitable equipment.
SSI has proposed the followed solution to answer the project needs:
- Procyon Reader as a fixed reader. Procyon readers have helped in providing reliable tags reading at required speed with the ease of deployment and Integration using its Text Stream Interface. Procyon is found to be best fir for the narrow plaza based lanes with required narrow antenna beam width to avoid cross lanes reading.
- Platino Handheld readers to process transactions in a manual way in case it is needed (example: when there is a power failure)
SSI’s success in India has translated to additional projects. We sold Procyon Readers and Platino Handheld Readers not only for 102 toll Plazas but also for the plazas that are managed and operated by Private concessionaires like: Reliance Infra Ltd. Hindustan Construction Company Ltd. Soma ISOLUX, KMC and Many More. We expect our growth in such central market as India to continue in the years to come.
Currently, as at October 2015, the project is at its deployment stage. The initial Site acceptance tests done by IHMCL were successful and first 10 Plazas are approved and ready for full operation. We expect during 2016 to have all Plazas up and running.