Congestion Charging in India,the Government Initiative and the way forward – by Sachin Bhatia , CEO , Metro Infrasys P Ltd

March 28, 2014

Sachin BhatiaMetro Infrasys Pvt. Ltd. with its head office based in New Delhi is an innovative provider of IT enabled Electronic Systems for Modern Infrastructure, with an impressive track record, in collaborations with top concession companies and Infrastructure Developers in India. At Metro Infrasys, we are driven by the philosophy of dynamic engineering based on reliability. Metro Infrasys provides the best available customized solution in the field of Highway Systems , Urban Traffic and Transport Systems and Security Systems.

 Mr. Sachin Bhatia ; engineer by qualification has worked in more than 20 Tolling Projects comprising of more than 300 lanes for the last 10 years. 

The implementation of the first major ETC System at India’s largest and world’s 4th largest Delhi Gurgaon Toll Plaza on NH-8 is one of his achievements.

 Always on look out to develop new technologies for making the projects more innovative and advanced. He has recently launched a new system called FIAOS (Fraud and Internal Audit Online System) for checking the performance of the operator and AVC and also for checking any Closed Lane Violation.



 With congestion growing to unmanageable levels , the initiative as per the Press Release from the Ministry of Urban Transportation is right step in the direction.

      However in view of the political resistance that is expected against the same, it may be an idea to follow how it is done in the Italian Cities. In Italy, the government implements a restricted access in old city areas wherein using technology the local residents are only allowed in the Old Cities areas. The main concept is that while it is an access restriction, and if someone other than the original owners vehicle accesses the are there is a Penalty which work like a congestion charge, without really calling it a congestion charge. Also the access could be restricted during certain  times of the day , depending upon the need for decongestion.

 General Description of the Technical Solution and general Operation methodology

Every Vehicle (limited to a maximum number of vehicles per resident) which below to an owners living in the area is granted the access by issuing them a tag. The tag is mapped to the number plate of the vehicle as well. Any vehicle which does not have the tag is considered a violator, and the number plate of the get recorded and a photos is taken of the same.

The system logs into the State Registration database and accesses the records of the registration of the violating vehicle are accessed and a penalty is send to the address of the violator.

The system allows multiple points /modes of the payment and if the vehicle owner does not pay within a stipulated period it the vehicle is blacklisted as offender and impounded.

Press Release of Congestion Charges

The Ministry of Urban Development (MUD), with the objective of reduction of congestion traffic during peak hours, has written to the chief secretaries of states to introduce ‘congestion charge’ in cities.

The concept of congestion charge, although relatively unknown in India, has been effectively implemented in cities like London, New York, Milan and Singapore. Levying of this charge would mean that vehicles driven into congested areas of a city would have to pay an entry fee or heavy parking charges. The congestion charge would deter people from taking private vehicles to congested areas of cities and encourage them to use public transport. This would result in lesser number of vehicles on roads.

The letter written by MUD secretary Sudhir Krishna states: “Now-a-days mobility in our cities, either big or medium, is a huge challenge due to congestion during peak hours, which is mainly due to excessive use of private vehicles. There is a need to resolve the congestion issues urgently for improving mobility of the people.”

The problem of congestion may be partly resolved by adopting Transport Demand Management (TDM) strategies to ensure that the economic development of our cities is decoupled from excessive motorization by encouraging investments in sustainable transports like public transport, cycling and walking, the letter read.

Due to the demographic, business and archaeological compulsions in certain areas in the cities, de-congesting is a tough process, Krishna added in the letter.

The letter was sent along with case studies of London and Singapore, which show impressive results.

With the levying of the charge, traffic in Central London went down by about 21 per cent and the traffic speed went up by about 10 per cent.

The MUD’s letter suggested a manual permit/ coupon system, as was done in Singapore, when it first introduced congestion pricing.  London uses automatic number plate recognition cameras at entry sites around the core areas of the city to record the vehicles. Those incurring the charge then pay it online, through mobiles or at specific stores and those failing to pay the charge get fined, the MUD said.

There is a need to discourage use of private vehicles in the core areas of cities so that people can reach offices, workplaces and business centers in time.

This can be achieved by proper TDM and consequent levying of congestion charges on the vehicles entering the specified zone. The congestion pricing is premised on a basic concept — “charge a price in order to allocate a scarce resource to its most valuable use” the letter read.

Panel suggests congestion charges in business districts

September 10, 2013

 Express news service : 


Traffic woes Committee set up by Bombay HC makes 51 recommendations to address issue.


Even as traffic management in Mumbai remains an uphill task, a high-powered committee set up by the Bombay High Court in May last year has recommended introduction of congestion charges to restrict vehicles in central business districts (CBDs), besides pay-and-park policy for old and congested areas as well as night-time on-street parking in residential areas. The 11-member committee was formed to suggest remedial steps to ensure smooth vehicular and pedestrian movement and devise workable solutions to address traffic problems.

Creating a taskforce to select modern technology for traffic offences, integration of multi-modal transport networks, integrated ticketing system, refresher training for drivers, capacity building in Regional Transport Office (RTO) for driving tests, use of modern technology for driving test, policy to restrict registration of vehicles, station area improvement, signalisation of all junctions, intelligent transportation system, making space under flyovers free of encroachments and illegal parking, and creating inter-state bus terminals are part of a comprehensive action plan mooted by the committee. In all, the panel has made 51 suggestions.

Panel suggests congestion charges at business districts.

The committee was constituted following a PIL by the Bombay Bar Association seeking strict adherence of traffic norms in the city. On Wednesday, Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta, however, sought the implementation of two points mentioned in the 48-page report — sharing data and information of registered vehicles and using world-class street furniture for road marking and signages.

The report states that the data of non-transport vehicles and driving licences issued post-2006 have been digitised and shared with the traffic police. However, the action plan suggests that the transport department must take steps to scan the pre-2006 data as well.

The action plan also states that the BMC has undertaken a project for providing street furniture of international standards and made the necessary budgetary provisions. The BMC has undertaken the painting of zebra crossings. The corporation is in consultation with IIT and UDCT for improvement in methods and material used for signages that tend to fade owing to climatic conditions and traffic density in Mumbai. The court has sought compliance of the two suggestions by April 25.

“Restricting the number of vehicles in Mumbai along with congestion could be a possible solution for reducing vehicle density on roads. A sizeable amount of cess on consumption of petrol and diesel for cars in the MMR or Mumbai city, and using the proceeds for improvement and strengthening of public transport system like BEST will be considered. The issue of imposition of cess on petrol and diesel for cars may be taken up by the finance department and further implemented by the sales tax department,” says the report. The committee also suggested congestion pricing in selected areas. “The implementation of policy for congestion pricing will need the database of vehicles registered at RTOs/manpower for enforcement, etc,” it adds.

It moots establishment of a comprehensive parking unit for the city to look at on-road/off-road and vertical parking management, personnel management for operations, among others. “MCGM has invited expression of interest for implementing ‘web based paring’ for on-street parking, which involves electronic handheld devices capable of issuing of e-challans of parking fees, taking photographs of vehicles, noting vehicles’ registration numbers and transferring and storing data on a central server of MCGM. These devices will also have extendibility to use smart cards in future,” says the report.

The findings say that restricting registrations of new vehicles in Mumbai can be considered along with legal provisions as there is no law to stop the registration of vehicles in any office of the registering authority. “Transport commissioner to send a proposal to the Maharashtra government to revisit permit condition for transport vehicles for phasing out of old vehicles. Transport commissioner to also send a proposal to the government for policy initiatives to restrict registrations of new vehicles in Mumbai,” it says.

The report states that while the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act do not provide for “vicarious liability”, in order to adopt technology-based enforcement, the vehicle owner will have to be held equally responsible for certain offences by drivers.

Suggested Measures

Provision of vicarious liability of owners in case of offences committed by drivers.

Introducing congestion charges to restrict vehicles in central business district.

Congestion pricing in selected areas of the city.

Infrastructural facilities like test tracks to improve quality of driving tests.

Capacity building of regional Transport Office for driving tests.

Restricting registration of new vehicles to be considered along with legal provisions.

Taskforce to select modern technology for traffic related offences.

E-challan system with integrated e-payment options and alerting the offenders.

Appoint consultants to prepare parking policy for Greater Mumbai in consultation with traffic police department.

Creating a comprehensive parking unit.

Capacity building in urban local bodies and enforcing agencies.



Beijing to impose car congestion fee to tackle pollution by 2017

September 10, 2013



 Following the footsteps of bigger metropolitan cities like London, Milan and Tokyo, Beijing is set to implement the car congestion fee in order to cut down on air pollution by 2017.

Car emissions are believed to be the root cause for one-third of air pollutants in the city and also lead to a lot of congestion in certain areas and with this move, the Chinese capital hopes to limit car use in the center of the city.

According to China Daily, the congestion charge would be levied mainly on vehicles in the downtown area and will be set out in the near future by the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau and Beijing Commission of Transport.

Spokesman for the bureau, Fang Li said that whoever pollutes the air is responsible to clean it up and next year the capital will also see ban on private cars at certain times and areas.

Air pollution incharge at the bureau Yu Jianhua said that the government will hold public hearings before the implementation of the congestion fee and regional vehicle restriction, and will widely gauge public opinion.

Residents are reluctant for such a fee as they believe that the restriction on private vehicles would be inconvenient and suggest government cars take the lead and compensation be given to car users.

Under the new restriction, to be carried out in 2014, vehicles from outside Beijing will be forbidden from entering the Sixth Ring Road unless with permission, the report added.




Congestion charge for improved mobility faces feasibility question

September 10, 2013

Manish Umbrajkar, TNN


PUNE: During his visit to the city last week, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar had said Puneites should be prepared to cough up a congestion charge for better traffic management, in tune with a union government suggestion asking cities to explore imposing a congestion charge to decongest central business areas and improve mobility of people.

But traffic officials in Pune point out that the idea is impractical to implement and one which the municipal corporation has to take a decision on. Civic officials say it’s a “difficult charge” to impose.


 The Union ministry of urban development had in January this year urged state governments to consider introducing congestion charges. This month the ministry has once again asked the authorities to get a proper study done on various aspects of congestion charging system as per the city’s requirement. The ministry has even offered to bear 80% of the study’s cost.

“Mobility in medium and big cities is a huge challenge due to congestion during peak hours, which is mainly due to excessive use of private vehicles. There is a need to resolve the congestion issues urgently for improving mobility of people,” secretary of the Union ministry of urban development, Sudhir Krishna, stated in a letter addressed to all chief secretaries.


‘Excessive use of private vehicles’ on limited road space available is inefficient use of precious urban land. There is a need to discourage the use of private vehicles in select core areas of the city to increase the mobility of people at large, so that they can reach their workplaces, business centres and shops in time, without losing valuable working man hours, Krishna said in his letter. The congestion charge is premised on a basic concept – “charge a price in order to allocate a scarce resource to its most valuable use”. However, before introducing the congestion charge, the pre-condition is that there should be a good public transport system in place in the concerned city and proper facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, Krishna said.


The ministry has also cited case studies of congestion charging in central London and Singapore. “There are several cities the world over where congestion charges in one form or the other area being charged from private vehicles for many years. It is desirable to study the congestion pricing system in these cities in detail, and devise our own method. The results of congestion pricing in foreign cities have been impressive. Traffic in central London went down by about 21% and traffic speeds went up by about 10%,” Krishna wrote.


Municipal commissioner Mahesh Pathak wasn’t convinced with the road congestion tax suggestion for Pune. “It would be very difficult to implement. There are multiple entry or exit points. Moreover, there is no city in the country where such a tax is being collected,” said Pathak.

Senior traffic officials say such a tax should be ideally implemented, since it will help reduce traffic congestion. However, it is for the municipal corporation to decide on levying such a tax, the traffic officials said.


PMC and traffic police proposals on congestion tax

** In August 2007, the then municipal commissioner Pravinsinh Pardeshi had floated the idea of levying a new vehicle tax to arrest the growth of vehicular traffic. The proposed tax was proposed in addition to the registration charges and taxes paid to the Regional Transport Office, and if implemented, it would have been calculated based on the number of vehicles owned by a family. “We need to discourage the number of personal vehicles in the city, which are growing at an alarming speed,” he had said. The proposal did not work out, with staunch political opposition.

** The comprehensive mobility plan of the Pune Municipal Corporation has suggested introduction of both “physical and fiscal measures to discourage use of personal motor vehicles”

** The Pune traffic police in November 2009 sent a proposal to levy congestion charges on some of the busy city roads passing through the central peth areas of the city for reducing traffic. Besides proposing congestion charges, the traffic police had also stressed on the need to ban four-wheelers and two-wheelers on some busy roads, and turn them into walkways for citizens. The proposal also said that heavy parking charges should be collected from vehicle owners in the congested areas




Diplomats owe £67m in London congestion charge fines

September 10, 2013

A car drives past a congestion charge mark on a London road

London’s foreign diplomats owe more than £67m in congestion charge fines, the foreign secretary has said.

The US Embassy owes most with 63,000 fines totalling 7.2m, William Hague said, but the US insists diplomatic immunity covers the congestion charge.

In written statements to Parliament, Mr Hague also revealed diplomats owe £674,100 in business rates and £344,747 in London parking fines for 2012 alone.

He said 12 serious criminal allegations were made against diplomats in 2012.

The figure for unpaid congestion charges has been rising since the scheme was introduced in 2003.

After the US, Russia owes the most (£4.89 million from 42,310 fines), followed by Japan (£4.85 million from 42,206 fines).

During a visit by US President Barack Obama in 2011, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson asked him for a £5m cheque for unpaid congestion charges, but the US ambassador intervened before Mr Obama could answer, the Daily Telegraph reported.

 Unpaid congestion charges

  • USA: £7,277,400
  • Russia: £4,899,900
  • Japan: £4,856,280
  • Nigeria: £3,816,990
  • Germany: £3,782,170
  • India: £2,777,440

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the department considers the congestion charge a “service rendered” under diplomatic rules, though legal immunity means diplomats cannot be prosecuted for non-payment.

Nigerian diplomats owed the most in 2012 parking fines – £84,000 – while Saudi Arabia was second on the list with £24,005.

Mr Hague said officials had met with foreign missions and asked them to pay outstanding fines or appeal against them, and the new figures excluded £240,035 which had been paid or waived by councils.

Criminal allegations

Mr Hague said the Foreign Office was informed of 12 “serious offences” committed by people with diplomatic immunity in 2012.

These are defined as offences which could carry 12 months or more in prison, as well as drink-driving and driving without insurance.

He said 10 of the alleged offences were driving-related, including six for drink-driving – three by Russians.

The non-driving offences alleged were abuse of a domestic worker and causing actual bodily harm.

In the “most serious” cases the UK asks foreign governments to waive immunity to allow prosecution, or to withdraw an accused diplomat.

About 22,500 people get diplomatic immunity in the UK and Mr Hague said “the majority” abide by UK law.

According to the Foreign Office figures, 14 countries owe business rates to local authorities.

The Ivory Coast tops the list with unpaid business rates of £97,987, followed by China with £94,377.

Mr Hague said the figure of £674,100, the total amount owed on 14 June this year, took into account the fact that diplomatic missions only have to pay 6% of normal rates.

He added: “£45,219 of this outstanding debt is owed by Iran and Syria which are not currently represented in the UK. We are therefore unable to pursue these debts.”





Delhi plans congestion charge to ease gridlock

September 10, 2013

Drivers face 150 rupee (£2) fee to enter central areas after the number of cars on Indian capital’s

roads doubles in five years

Traffic jam in Delhi

(Traffic jams are a regular occurrence in Delhi. Photograph: Reuters/Corbis)

No one could fault the plan for lack of ambition: to tame the choked streets of India’s

notoriously chaotic capital by imposing a congestion charge modelled on that in London,

Singapore and a handful of other cities.


The Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the authority charged with providing civic services

to the city, hopes to introduce a system to levy a 150-rupee (£2) fee on cars, motorbikes

and even rickshaws entering central areas during the day.


“This will help reduce congestion … [and] encourage people to use public transport,” the head

of the authority, KS Mehra, told local press. Lorries will be made to pay a higher fee.

A congestion charge has existed in Singapore since the 1970s and various systems have

been successfully introduced in London, Rome, Milan and several Scandinavian cities

in recent years.


Authorities in Beijing recently said they were considering congestion charging, and other

Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Nangjing are reported to be interested. But no city

of the size and complexity of Delhi has attempted to introduce such a scheme.


Few doubt the necessity of radical measures in India’s capital. Construction of a metro

system and measures to boost the use of buses has barely slowed the increase in traffic

in recent years. A decade of rapid economic growth and a broad distaste for public

transport among the expanding middle class means there are now 6.8m vehicles on

Delhi’s roads, at least twice as many as five years ago.


Gridlock is common and, during winter, heavy smog leads to accidents, respiratory

diseases and mass flight cancellations.


Other Indian cities such as Mumbai, the country’s commercial capital, are considering

similar measures. The Delhi scheme would first be implemented in areas around

the historical old centre.


But experts are sceptical. “If you look at what is already in place to reduce congestion,

such as toll gates around Delhi, they make the problem worse, not better,” said Rumi Aijaz,

of the city’s Centre for Policy Research thinktank. “Even if the proposal is accepted

politically, the necessary infrastructure simply isn’t there.”


The tolls on key roads linking Delhi with satellite cities cause huge traffic jams.

Occasionally they are the focus of protests that can turn violent. Aijaz said a broader

strategy to tackle traffic in the city was necessary. “There has to be a range of measures

to manage the issue. Nothing done in isolation will work,” he said.


Experts point out that one serious problem is a lack of proper licensing or law enforcement

in Delhi. Driving permits can be bought illegally and laws that should ensure safe driving

and a smoother traffic flow are routinely ignored.


Fines for traffic violations can usually be avoided by paying a small bribe to police officers.

There are few cameras, although a Facebook page asking irate commuters to post their

own photographs of offenders has met with a massive response.

Senior police officers said charging would be a positive step – if technology to avoid

queuing was introduced. But even if the practical obstacles can be overcome, the support

of the infamously fractious “delhiwalla” – inhabitants of the city – will be hard to win.


Some shopkeepers welcomed the move, but their customers were less enthusiastic.

“People are already reeling under taxes … we don’t need any more,” Mamta Choudhary,

a teacher who regularly shops in one of the areas designated for the new scheme,

told the Times of India newspaper.


Ram Thakur, a 45-year-old manager who spends up to two hours a day in traffic

driving from the satellite city of Faridabad to his office, said no amount of charging

would make him give up the small car that he bought a year ago. “I started on a bicycle

and I’ve taken buses for 20 years. Now I am a car owner and life is very much nicer.

I am not giving it up to go back on buses or bikes,” he told the Guardian.


Dr Robin Hickman, an expert in urban transport at London University, said that

implementing a congestion charge in Delhi would be “extremely difficult. “It would

probably be a better option to increase tax on fuel in the city and invest the funds

generated in public transport,” Hickman, who has worked in Delhi, said.


Does congestion pricing make cities more car-free?

September 10, 2013

By Mary Catherine O’Connor |


GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN – On our way to the nearest tram stop, my husband and I pass a clay tennis court. Earlier, from the open window of our Airbnb-arranged apartment, I heard the grunting of players and pinging of the ball. As we walk by, I look up and notice a sign showing a hand holding two golden orbs, with a road in the background. My first reaction is that the sign offers some warning about errant balls crossing the road. Days later, as I sit down with University of Gothenburg professors Anna Nagurney and Jonas Floden, I learn that this sign is not about tennis, it’s about carbon dioxide.The two orbs actually represent coins, while the street in the background depicts arterial roads that ring this city of 510,000. The sign tells drivers they are about to pass under a camera that will capture their license plate numbers and charge them anywhere from 8 to 18 Swedish Kroner (roughly $1.25 to $2.79) each time they pass. (The charge applies only to cars registered in Sweden, and only on weekdays, between 6 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.)

The city launched congestion pricing on Jan. 1, after bolstering its bus and other public transit systems to accommodate what city officials expected to be a flood of new riders. The goals are to reduce carbon emissions from transportation, unclog traffic snarls during the morning and afternoon rush hours, and fund major, long-overdue transportation infrastructure projects. By Jan. 10, traffic in the city center had plummeted by 25 percent. In late May, however, traffic was down by less than that: only 14 percent compared to the same time period in 2012.

Not all drivers have abandoned their cars as a result of the congestion pricing, but many have switched to public transit for daily commuting, and others drive into the city outside of enforcement hours, Floden says.

“You can feel it and you can see it,” adds Nagurney, referring to the traffic reductions in Gothenburg since the program launched. She is a professor of operational management at the Isenberg School of Management at University of Massachusetts, on sabbatical at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg. Floden heads the school’s industrial management and logistics group.

“Gothenburg is continuing to grow, and cars are a major source of carbon emissions,” Floden says.

The congestion pricing program sits aside the city’s other programs to reduce air pollution. The Port of Gothenburg aims to become carbon-neutral by 2015, through a number of incentive programs such as paying shipping companies that use clean fuel. The city’s transit system also plans to start testing electric buses made by hometown manufacturer Volvo.

The congestion pricing program’s short-term intent is to raise funds for a large infrastructure project designed to improve public transit and regional train service. When I ask a young, fresh-faced greeter at the city’s transit information center if the system was set up so drivers are paying for the transit improvements, while transit users will gain all the benefits — more trains, shorter trips, fewer transfers, a new central station — without having to pay anything extra, she responds, “Yes, of course.”

“We need to get people to stop driving, or at least driving during busy hours,” she says, matter-of-factly. “And we need new infrastructure.”

Actually, the national government is footing half of the construction bills, but the rest must come from Gothenburg. Not all locals are happy with the high cost of driving as a result; a referendum has been introduced to reverse the congestion-pricing scheme. But even if the legislation gets enough votes to pass, Floden does not see how the city could actually halt the program, because ground is already being broken and the money already being spent.

Gothenburg is the third fourth European city to launch congestion pricing, following London, Stockholm and Milan. Its structure is patterned after Stockholm’s system, which has cut vehicular traffic in that city by 20 percent, while boosting use of public transit during peak hours by an impressive 78 percent.


A tram shelter, amid low traffic

A Gothenburg tram shelter, amid low traffic.

Some Asian cities are considering congestion pricing, and some prohibit drivers from driving every day — to cut down on congestion and smog, they’re beholden to enter roads on alternating days. Due to horrible air quality, the Chinese city of Shijiazhuang will enact a lottery to allow car ownership to just a portion of its citizens. Singapore also uses congestion pricing, but in a cruel twist, it is still seeing record-breaking air pollution, which is blamed on farmers burning fields in neighboring Sumatra.

A number of U.S. cities, including New York and San Francisco, have considered congestion pricing, but thus far have lacked the wide support to introduce it. With cameras that can quickly read license plates, the infrastructure to deploy congestion pricing is pretty simple and the pay-off, as Stockholm has shown, can be significant. Nagurney, for one, is somewhat optimistic that American cities will come around. “I think it might happen,” she says.

(Images: Top by mikecogh/Flickr; others by Mary Catherine O’Connor)