New Delhi: The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is working on a policy that will allow travellers to be billed just for the exact distance travelled on a toll road.
Currently, travellers pay a set fee usually for your toll road, irrespective of whether they use all or an integral part of it. Under a so-called “open toll policy”, the fee payable is a set amount in line with the period of extending under one project, that is normally 60km.
In a potential game-changer, the brand new “closed toll policy” being performed upon by the road transport and highways ministry will enable travellers to be charged on a per kilometre basis for the distance they travel. The proposed policy is likely to be applicable to all or any access-controlled highways (preventing free access from all sides) and expressways in the nation.
The step pops at any given time when toll rates on the country’s national highways have already been rising significantly, making road journeys costlier. Toll fee on a highway stretch is revised every year in addition to new fee calculated is rounded off to your nearest Rs5.
The program will undoubtedly be operationalized first regarding the new 135km Eastern Peripheral Expressway which will cover Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, bypassing Delhi. The Rs7,000-crore expressway is geared towards reducing traffic in Delhi by providing an alternative approach to vehicular traffic not headed into in the national capital.
“The first expressway/highway where the closed toll policy will be implemented is the Eastern Peripheral Express which will be inaugurated this year,” said a senior government official requesting anonymity.
Throughout the India Integrated Transport and Logistics Summit a week ago, minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari had hinted that his ministry was working on a “pay per km” project.
The move, that might help popularise usage of toll roads, thinks significance because of the governments intend to create 40 economic corridors spanning 21,000km of roads, entailing an investment of Rs3 trillion. The total road length to be developed as expressways underneath the government’s Bharat Mala project is around 51,000km.
India had 362 toll plazas under National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) overseeing 18,807km of roads until 2015-16. They produced a revenue of Rs17,250 crores. The government intends to boost the length of National Highways to 200,000km from 96,000km by 2019.
“The government already has a policy on how much to be charged per km on a toll road. The same rate card will be applicable on closed toll policy too. The only difference would be the km travelled will be measured and charged from commuter based on from where he entered on the toll road and where he exited. The cue has been taken from overseas,” added the official stated earlier.
Experts said implementing the program can be challenging.
“It’s a step in right direction but there are going to be several challenges in its implementation like national highways have several entries and exit points and how will the toll collector/company keep a tab on distance travelled by a vehicle?” said Jaijit Bhattacharya, partner, infrastructure and government services, at consulting firm KPMG.
Bhattacharya said these challenges may be mastered only through smart IT solutions.
Manish Agarwal, partner and leader-infrastructure at PwC India, agreed. “To implement this, e-tolling would be a pre-requisite,” he said, adding that if the government is able to accomplish that, commuters could possibly be charged precisely based on the average distance they travel.
Inquiries emailed to spokespersons associated with ministry of road transport on Monday evening remained unanswered during the time of planning to press.
Such expressways are targeted at reducing delays since they are access-controlled. India loses $6.6 billion every year in transportation delays for freight, says an evaluation study of survey data for calendar years 2008-09, 2011-12 and 2014-15 because of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta. These delays cost $14 billion per year because of the fuel consumption, according to your study.