Following the Goverment?s vision of rolling out nationwide Electronic Toll Collection, the authorities are currently pursuing pilot projects on various stretches of national highways. These projects will test the robustness and reliability of the solutions being offered by different consortiums, comprising tag manufacturers, tolling solutions providers, system integrators and application providers. The Bandra-Worli Sea Link is an early adopter of the ETC technology.
With commissioning and operational success of the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system implementation by MEP Infrastructure Developers Private Limited, monthly commuters who used to wait in the toll lanes for minutes together in the peak hour traffic, are now enjoying a stress free experience with completely automated toll lanes available for their selection.
Having secured the contract for Operations, Maintenance & Toll Collection on this iconic project, MEP decided that they needed to come up with solutions, to make life easier for the regular commuters crossing this stretch and free up the lanes so that more traffic could be accommodated on this stretch. They were seeking the ideal solution that would allow the smooth transitioning of monthly pass holder vehicles through dedicated ETC lanes in either direction, thereby driving more traffic and increasing business substantially.
With more than 1,25,000 vehicles crossing BWSL every day, the objective was to find a system which would be tamper-proof ? against misuse as well as against the weather elements and robust to function effectively without replacement over a 10 year period. The system also had to have proven its performance capability and had to be good enough to provide ease of integration with the existing lane software. Moreover, it had to be priced competitively to drive customer adoption.
MEP has partnered with Infrovate Consulting and Solutions Pvt Ltd ? a leading provider of successful ETC implementation.
The big task for MEP was to identify the most appropriate technology provider for the ETC implementation. Says Sainath Gurav, Chief Information Officer, MEP, ?We had to make a critical decision during the selection of the RFID Reader, Antenna and Tags. We ran numerous tests during this stage, and were impressed with Neology tags and readers which functioned exceedingly well during adverse testing conditions over a four months testing period. Within nine months of launch (August 1, 2012), the ETC lanes are now handling a traffic volume of 2000 vehicles every day.?
Gurav highlights the challenges faced by the operations team during the initial phase, primarily from lane discipline among the ETC and Non-ETC vehicles. He further elaborates on the approach adopted to overcome this hurdle, ?To create better awareness, we placed different coloured sign boards at appropriate intervals for vehicles approaching the plaza. We printed and distributed maps as well as pamphlets, and even employed additional manpower to educate drivers which improved lane discipline at the plaza. With this successful implementation at RGSL, we have decided to speed up the adoption by providing mixed mode lanes wherein the vehicles with Tags affixed can also pass through the manual lanes ? making more lanes available for use by RFID tagged vehicles. MEP has now more than 10,000 vehicles enrolled in the ETC programme across their five other toll plazas encompassing the Mumbai Entry Points project.?
The entire process of tag distribution is handled from the toll plaza by MEP. The toll plaza is equipped with a Point of Sale outlet where the vehicle user is provided with an RFID Tag which is correctly affixed on the windshield by an operator. The information related to the vehicle is captured in the system and the amount of money tendered by the user is registered against this particular Tag ID which is a unique identifier in the RFID terminology.
?Once this exercise is completed, whenever the vehicle next arrives at the ?ETC only? lanes, the barrier automatically opens upon recognising the validity of the RFID tag mounted on the windshield,? explains Arvind Devaraj, Head, Customer Solutions, Infrovate Consulting & Solutions Pvt Ltd. ?When the manual toll users begin noticing the ease with which the vehicles with tags affixed move through the toll exits, it proves an encouragement to them too to make the switch from manual to electronic toll lanes?.
Confident with the success of the ETC lanes in operation at the Bandra Worli Sea Link, MEP has now partnered with Infrovate to deliver ETC lanes across their other OMT projects. ?We believe in adopting innovative technologies to provide the best customer experience, and the synergies achieved by working with a technology leader like Infrovate Consulting and Solutions in the Electronic Toll Collection domain ensures that we are moving full steam ahead, focusing on our core business of OMT?, says Gurav.
?Electronic Toll Collection using RFID technology is the future of Tolling, as the Industry and Government become conscious of losses due to pilferage, manpower errors, loss of time in queues, pollution of waiting vehicles, and operational issues with cash management. The nationwide rolling out of ETC is expected to be completed by 2014; this will be a revolutionary step in improving customer experience, reducing pilferage and increasing revenue realisation from our national highways,? says Devaraj.