Monday 31 October 2011

India has toll plaza congestion - any chance of a technical solution?

The Times of India reports on chronic congestion at toll plazas in New Delhi. The concern being that delays at the 32 lane toll plaza on the New Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway should be resolved by the concessionaire - DSC Ltd. The website describes the toll plaza as:

At Delhi Gurgaon Border the Gate way to Haryana, Border Toll Plaza featuring 32 lanes built on international standards provides a smooth entry to State of Haryana.

One idea has been to introduce congestion pricing on the toll road, which of course might help (the existing toll structure is here) but the real issue is simple - manual tolling on high capacity highways cannot efficiently handle the full capacity of the road. It already has a DSRC system enabling bypasses of toll queues, but the issue is whether it is priced or managed well enough to encourage a major shift in behaviour.

A press release indicates
some steps have been taken, although frankly these are standard practice elsewhere. Faulty tags should be replaced as a matter of course, and tag costs should be subsidised over time, because of the cost savings they offer.

For a road reportedly handling 200,000 vehicles a day, it should have the majority of trips using a tag based system. Indeed, as India grows, it will be obviously unsustainable to continue to push tolling on a manual basis, as the costs of toll plaza bottlenecks will be a brake on growth.

India badly needs to develop a medium to long term approach to avoid this.   That means looking at number plates, DSRC technologies and interoperability, and taking a market led approach.  The scale is considerable, but the medium to long term benefits are potentially considerable.

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