Congestion Charging in India,the Government Initiative and the way forward – by Sachin Bhatia , CEO , Metro Infrasys P Ltd
March 28, 2014
Metro 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.