With National Highways being built on the Public Private Partnership model, it is important to install effective Toll Collection Systems to recover the investment by concessionaires on construction, operation and maintenance. A Toll Plaza has to be designed and constructed in such a manner that it not only lasts for the entire concession period but also instills a sense of pride among the people employed on the collection job so that they discharge their duties well on a daily basis. It also has to be aesthetic in nature as it is the only point of contact between the motorist and the concessionaire and vice versa.
The efficiency of the plaza is dependent on two important aspects -people and the collection system. Both are inter-dependent and if one goes wrong, the other gets affected.
Operational Demands for Automation
“It is a fact that though it is people who create the Toll Collection System, it is the same people who can make mistakes while operating that very system,” says Amit Mohan Gupta, Chief Marketing Officer, Rajdeep Infotech Pvt Ltd. “Therefore, the system’s dependence on people should be to the minimum. Normally, a concessionaire does not have any control on the magnitude of traffic but money that is due must be collected from all collectibles. Once the COD (Commercial Operations Date) is achieved and the tolling process begins, the collection of toll fees becomes entirely the function of accounts and with accounts, lot of checks and balances come into the picture.”
Why is Pre Classification required?
1. Leakage and pilferage to be controlled to the minimum: If the tolling system is of pre classification in nature, the concessionaire shall not lose any money because if the Toll Collector tries to classify the vehicle into a lower category than what the Automatic Vehicle Counter and Classifier (AVCC) has already classified, the barrier shall not open. This is because the classification is already done before the vehicle reaches the pay axis.
2. Only Pre Classification of the vehicle can provide the functioning of weight-based tolling as the vehicle class has to be known to the system for charging the motorist.
3. There should be at least Two Tier auditing of the transactions:
The system should have the facility of two-tier auditing, i.e. in case the camera photo is not available due to fault in the camera or excessive fog or some malfunction, there should be a separate image through which the auditor can perform the auditing.
4. Classification Accuracy including non standard vehicles should be more than 99%:
• In India we find very few standard vehicles as even though the Motor Vehicle Act defines what a standard vehicle is, the procedure is seldom followed. Hence, the classification accuracy should be considered in totality and not just for standard vehicles. The accuracy should be more than at least 99% as in the Indian scenario, having accuracy of more than 99.6% (as specified in tenders) for standard vehicles loses its meaning.
5. Controlling the remotely located toll plaza from the HQ:
• All the plazas are located at remote locations. Therefore, it is important that if a senior person of the concessionaire wishes to access the toll plaza, he should be able to do it from the Head Quarters or anywhere else provided he is authorised to do so.
• Few basic reports should also be accessible so that an online analysis of data can be done without any human intervention.
6. The Automatic Vehicle Counter and Classifier (AVCC) should last for more than 8-10 years:
• Since the concession period ranges from 12 to 30 years, the AVCC should be such that it does not get into contact with every passing vehicle. That way, the life of the AVCC will not be affected with every passing vehicle.
• Also no part of the AVCC should be installed on the ground so that during the time of maintenance, the lane need not be kept closed. This will avoid congestion at the plaza.
• The software should have facilities for authorisation at different levels and should be such that once the data is generated, it becomes non-tamperable.
8. Minimum human intervention:
• Except for collection of toll and generation of reports, the system should be automatic in nature and should require minimum human intervention. That way, human errors will be avoided to a great extent.
9. Minimum maintenance:
• The system should be so robust that maintenance, especially of the heart of the system i.e. AVCC, is kept to the minimum. Also, the uptime (availability) of AVCC should be more than 99.5% at all times – it must not break down in between.
Concerns of the Lender
Once the lenders have done the required financing, it is important for them to understand whether the financial model presented by the concessionaire was correct or not. They must also evaluate the project. Reality can be very different from whatever surveys were carried out pre financial closure or during the disbursements. It has been observed that in many projects the traffic count is lower than 30-40% than what was initially envisaged.
Rajdeep Info Techno Pvt Ltd provides solutions to the main concerns while installing Toll Plazas. They are:
• Money being collected is being reported correctly: Since the lender can also have link to the remote monitoring tool, random checks can be done by the lender himself sitting in his office.
• Reports to be received at fixed intervals: The lender receives the report automatically at fixed intervals in the desired format. The lender is also able to draw reports as and when required for any analysis to be done.
• Viewing the Toll collection on real time basis: Since the concessionaire is going to return the money after toll collection only, the lender can view the toll plaza on a real time basis to draw attention towards discrepancies, if any.
Concerns of NHAI
• Whether the money being collected is being reported correctly: Remote monitoring of the same shall resolve this issue as the NHAI can randomly log into the remote monitoring module and draw various reports.
• A proper audit system is in place – minimum two tier auditing required: The system should have minimum two tier auditing as it will resolve all issues regarding miss-classification.
• Reports to be received at fixed intervals: The reports to NHAI should come automatically in the desired format at the desired interval without any human intervention
While developing the Toll Equipment solution, following factors must be given importance
• The system should be robust.
• Maintenance of the entire system should be kept to the minimum.
• Peripherals used should be easily available in the market
• The system should be easily operable by high school fail people also.
• No part of the entire system should come in contact with the passing vehicle.
• The system should be easily portable in case the toll plaza’s location is changed.
• It should be cost-effective.