A smooth drive

Print edition : February 24, 2006

The Advanced Traffic Management System control room on the Delhi-Jaipur section of National Highway 8. -

DRIVING on national highways could soon become smoother with the National Highways Authority of India's plans to encourage the use of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in vehicles and on the roads. This would improve mobility, increase transport safety, reduce traffic congestion, maximise comfort and reduce adverse environmental impacts, said Ravi Palekar, General Manager (Electronics) of the NHAI.

ITS has various components - Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), Advanced Traveller Information System (ATIS), Advanced Vehicle Control Systems (AVCS), Commercial Vehicle Operation (CVO), Public Transport Management (PTM), Toll Collection System (TCS), Safety and Security System, and so on.

As of now, the NHAI has been tolling over 3,000 kilometres, with more stretches being added at regular intervals. Presently, there are about 65 toll plazas for collection of user fees on the national highways. Most of these use manual systems to issue tickets. Different categories of vehicles such as trucks, jeeps and cars are charged different rates. Toll collection is done manually, although contact-less smart cards are used at a few places.

The NHAI is planning to modernise the systems in a phased manner.

Under Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) method, users need to fit their vehicles with electronic tags (On Board Units or OBUs), which are fixed on windscreens. They would be allowed to pass the highway tolling stations at cruising speed through dedicated lanes. The required toll will be deducted electronically from a bank account or from a prepaid card by special readers attached in these lanes.

With Smart Card Systems, road-users can pay the toll electronically through smart cards. The toll can be transferred directly from the cardholder to the toll agency. Users can make the payments by swiping the card through the reader. This would eliminate the need for cash handling and customer account management; almost it would lower the operating costs of many toll facilities.

Modern collection systems include reduced revenue leakages, transparent financial transactions and increased convenience for road users as they do not need to stop at plazas to make payments. It would also reduce traffic congestion at booths.

There would be less pollution near toll stations as vehicles do not need to slow down or stop for making payments.

The NHAI has taken the initiative to introduce the ETC system at the plazas between Delhi-Mumbai, Panipat-Jalandar and Delhi-Agra sections of the National Highways as a pilot project. They would be introduced at Bilaspur (Delhi-Jaipur) on NH 8, Manoharpur (Delhi-Jaipur) on NH 8, Jaipur Bypass on NH 8, Kavalias (Kishengarh-Kavalias) on NH 79A, Jojro Ka Kheda (Bhilwara-Chittorgarh) on NH 79, Narayanpura (Rithola-Udaipur) on NH 76, Paduna (Udaipur-Kherwada) on NH 8, Khandi Obri (Kherwara-Ratanpur) on NH 8, Vantada (Ratanpur-Himatnagar) on NH 8, Karnal (Panipat-Jalandhar) on NH 1, Shambhu (Panipat-Jalandhar) on NH 1, Doraha (Panipat-Jalandhar) on NH 1, Srinagar (Delhi-Agra) on NH 2, Mahuvan (Delhi-Agra) on NH 2.

The NHAI is planning to implement Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) at select stretches on the national highways. State-of-the-art ATMS has evolved over several decades, initially in a number of developed countries in Europe, the United States and in Canada, bringing about of improvements in traffic flow and the maintenance and management of highways. The use of ATMS would result in smooth, uninterrupted traffic flow, enhanced user safety and fewer accidents, provide ready information and guidance to users, ensure emergency assistance round the clock and issue alerts for abnormal road and weather conditions.

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