Toll Plaza Rules in India

Law
10-Jan-2024
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A toll plaza is an establishment where cars must pay a toll, as they are generally called, to use a specific route or highway. The money raised by these tolls goes towards building and maintaining the infrastructure, which keeps users' travels safe and effective. In India, public-private partnerships or government organizations are usually in charge of managing toll plazas. 

In India, toll collection and toll plaza operations are governed by several acts and rules. Among the important laws are:

  • The National Highways Act of 1956: Establishes the legal basis for toll collection.
  • Central Road Fund Act, 2000: Establishes the fund to build and maintain the state and federal highways.
  • Toll-Operate-Transfer (TOT) Model: As per this model private organizations get upfront money in exchange for the operation and maintenance of selected national highways for a predetermined concession time.

In this article, we will learn about the toll plaza rules in India, shedding light on the specific regulations and guidelines governing toll collection in the country.

Rules Related to Toll and Payment Collection

  • Display the toll rates prominently at the toll plaza entrance.
  • Toll payment collectors must accept payments via Fast Tag, as cash payment lanes have been removed from the toll gates since Feb, 2021.

No Toll After 10 seconds

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) states that if a driver waits longer than ten seconds at a toll plaza, they are not required to pay a toll. To guarantee that, even during peak hours, the average car servicing time does not surpass 10 seconds, the NHAI released recommendations in May 2021. Additionally, Toll plazas, as mandated by the NHAI, are required to paint a yellow line 100 meters in front of the booth entry, ensuring that vehicles waiting at toll booths do not exceed 100 meters.

FASTag is Compulsory

The Government introduced FASTags to avoid the inconvenience of waiting in long queues at the toll plazas. A FASTag is a sticker tag that employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to make automatic electronic payments at the toll plazas. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highway introduced FASTag in India in 2017.

The registration details of your vehicle are linked to a barcode present in your FASTag. As a result, whenever your vehicle passes through a toll plaza, the barcode will be scanned and the relevant toll fee will be deducted from your digital FASTag wallet.

New FASTag Rules and Regulations

Here are the new rules about FASTags you should be aware of:

  • Mandatory: According to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), it is mandatory for all vehicle owners to use FASTag with effect from February 2021.
  • Make Sure the FASTag Works: If your FASTag does not work at a FASTag toll lane, the toll charges will be doubled. Therefore, before you enter a toll lane, make sure that the RFID barcode is not damaged and that your FASTag wallet has sufficient balance.
  • Double Charges without FASTag: If you do not have a FASTag and want to cross a toll plaza, you will have to pay twice as much as the standard toll rates. Therefore, it is advisable to install a FASTag if you wish to save time and money.
  • Third-Party Insurance: According to The Motor Vehicles Act, of 1988, you should mandatorily possess third-party insurance. A FASTag must be assigned to your vehicle's registration number if you want to purchase third-party insurance. Therefore, even if you don't drive on highways, you still have to install a FASTag.
  • Validity: The validity of your FASTag is five years. To maintain sufficient balance, make sure to recharge the tag on time.
  • One FASTag Per Vehicle: A FASTag is linked to the registration number of your vehicle. So, you can use only one FASTag per vehicle. If you use a FASTag for multiple vehicles, you will be penalized.

Toll plaza between two Stations

  • As per the fee rules 2008, the spacing between two adjacent toll plazas should be 60 Kilometers. 
  • On March 22, Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, declared in the Lok Sabha that there will only be one toll plaza on national highways spanning 60 kilometers (km).
  • "...and if there's a second toll plaza, then it will be shut in the next three months," the Minister stated in response to a Lok Sabha debate concerning the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) grant requests.

Rule for Return Journey

There won't be two charges for the return trip; it will only be charged once.

For a single trip (passing a particular toll once) and a loop trip (passing a particular toll plaza twice in the allotted period), there are varying toll charges. It is computed in this manner.

During the return trip, the FASTag automatically deducts only the difference if the round trip is completed within the allotted time (which varies depending on the toll). For instance, the following occurs if the cost of a single journey is Rs. 80 and the cost of a round-trip is Rs. 125.

80 rupees are taken out of the FASTag each time a customer crosses the toll. The Rs. 55 discrepancy between Rs. 125 and Rs. 80, and Rs. 55 is only subtracted when the consumer returns. The user would be fined Rs. 80 if they cross the toll again. The allotted time frame may change depending on the toll.

Certain toll plazas have a 24-hour window between when a consumer crosses them and when they return. Certain tolls expire at midnight. Some tolls expire at noon.

FASTag offers the advantage of automatically computed savings in addition to saving time and money when traveling.

Vehicle Categorization for Toll Charges

Toll charges in India are determined by the types of vehicles, which are categorized into classes based on size, weight, and purpose of use. Common categories may include passenger cars, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles. The following outlines the vehicle categorizations for toll charges. Vehicles must adhere to their assigned category when paying tolls.

  • Category 1: Cars, Two-Wheelers, and Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs):
    • This category includes regular cars, motorcycles, and small commercial vehicles.
    • Toll charges for Category 1 vehicles are generally lower compared to larger and heavier vehicles.
  • Category 2: Medium Commercial Vehicles (MCVs):
    • MCVs encompass a range of medium-sized commercial vehicles, including larger delivery trucks.
    • Toll charges for Category 2 vehicles are higher than those for Category 1 vehicles.
  • Category 3: Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCVs):
    • HCVs include larger trucks, buses, and other heavy-duty commercial vehicles.
    • Toll charges for Category 3 vehicles are typically the highest due to their size and impact on road infrastructure.
  • Category 4: Multi-Axle Vehicles:
    • Multi-axle vehicles, often larger trucks and buses with multiple axles, fall into this category.
    • Toll charges for Category 4 vehicles are higher to account for their larger size and potential impact on road maintenance.
  • Category 5: Over-dimensional and Over-weight Vehicles:
    • Vehicles exceeding standard dimensions or weight limits are categorized as over-dimensional or over-weight.
    • Toll charges for Category 5 vehicles are usually higher, reflecting the additional strain they place on the road infrastructure.
  • Category 6: Non-Commercial Vehicles (Private Buses, etc.):
    • Non-commercial vehicles that are larger than standard cars but not strictly commercial, such as private buses, may fall into this category.
    • Toll charges for Category 6 vehicles are set based on their size and weight.

Lane Segregation for Different Payment Modes

Lane segregation is a common practice in toll plazas in India to promote more effective and seamless toll collection, particularly after the advent of electronic toll-collecting systems like FASTag. By classifying distinct lanes at toll plazas according to the manner of payment, lane segregation enables cars to select the lane that best suits their chosen mode of payment. This is a synopsis:

  • Cash Lanes: Designated for only cash transactions. These lanes have changes ready and also help avoid traffic for the FASTag lanes
  • FASTag Lanes: Designated for the FASTag electronic toll collection device, it uses RFID technology to enable automatic toll payments. This helps avoid any physical cash transactions as the lanes already have the technology like sensors and scanners and to do everything online.
  • Hybrid Lanes: These lanes provide both and help with flexibility for users.

Complaint Resolution Process

You can call the 24/7 toll-free number 1033 from your phone or landline to raise complaints about toll plazas. You can use this number for issues like: 

  • Toll plazas not accepting FASTag
  • Unable to read the Tag
  • Not supporting monthly pass issuance
  • Stopped at the plaza for Tag blacklist reasons even though Tag is not blacklisted

The 1033 Helpline is connected with other highway operations facilities and offers road users multilingual assistance services.

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is another place where you can file a complaint and claim. The majority of tolls feature live PCU counters, and all are under CCTV surveillance. Should the NHAI be of no assistance, you may alternatively register on the portal.

Verifiable facts, pertinent issues, and factual information must all be included in the complaint. Complaints that are not signed are not authentic and will be handled anonymously or under pseudonyms.