By November 2020, FASTag accounts for around 75% total transactions across the toll plazas in India.
The Indian government is aiming to move to 100% collection of toll taxes on the national highways through FASTags from 1st January 2021. With this move, the government is planning to do away with cash transactions at toll plazas.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has already made the FASTags mandatory for all four-wheelers and bigger vehicles as well, from 1st April 2020. Currently, around 75% of toll payment across the country is done through these smart tags and only one lane on the toll plazas accept cash payment. All the other lanes at the toll plazas come earmarked for transactions through the FASTtags that are equipped with RFID technology.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will deploy personnel with point of sale (PoS) machines at toll plazas to issue the FASTtags quickly. They will also recharge the FASTag accounts of the vehicle owners.
According to an NHAI official, the agency will carry out awareness campaigns to ensure every national highway user gets smart tags for his or her vehicle, as even the current 25% users paying toll charges in cash are impacting the smooth travel through plazas.
Recently, MoRTH secretary Giridhar Aramane had visited a toll plaza in Uttar Pradesh to assess the ground situation and how soon the digital payment of toll can be rolled out completely. However, the notification from the government is awaited regarding the 100% FASTag implementation from January 2021.
NHAI recently floated a tender to introduce prepaid cards for those vehicle users who pay toll tax in cash. However, NHAI later withdrew the tender, as it felt the focus should be streamlined only on FASTag penetration, as the smart payment system has already stabilised in the last 8 months.
What is FASTag?
It is like a chip integrated sticker with a magnetic strip. The sticker is pasted on top left corner of the vehicle’s windscreen that uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. It helps the passenger and commercial vehicles to pass through the toll plazas without halting for paying the toll tax like earlier.
According to research, a transition to 100% FASTag-based toll collection on national highways could save up to Rs 12,000 crore worth of fuel and man-hours in India.
Benefits of FASTag
The first and foremost purpose of implementation of these smart tags is reducing travel time and making toll collection process cashless, in the line with the Indian government’s digital India move. Also, the move is claimed to be more efficient than toll tax collection using cash. As the Government of India has mandated, not having FASTag costs a vehicle owner up to twice the normal rate.
While both private and commercial vehicles need to have FASTags, commercial vehicles that travel thousands of kilometres across India and through multiple toll plazas are the real beneficiaries, in terms of both money and time. The government claimed that with FASTag, commercial vehicle operators, logistics providers are able to save fuel expenses and labour wages as well, resulting in offering services at a competitive rate.
Where to get FASTags?
These smart tags are being issued by banks in India via various channels like Point-of-Sale (PoS) at National Highway toll plazas and select bank branches. Apart from that, it is also available on the e-commerce platform like Amazon.
Charges for FASTag
The certified banks that issue these smart tags can charge a maximum of Rs 100 for each smart tag, as mandated by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). However, different banks offer different offers and discounts, resulting in variable charges. The total cost includes tag fee, a refundable security deposit and first recharge amount.
How to activate FASTag?
The FASTag account can be activated in two ways. The customer can activate it by himself or herself. Also, he or she can visit the certified bank branch to activate the account.