Electronic toll collection at expressways to help alleviate traffic congestion: Johnston!!


Highways Minister Johnston Fernando today said that action would be taken to introduce electronic toll collection (ETC) at expressways to help alleviate traffic congestion, reduce delay, fuel consumption, and vehicle emissions.

He said that a cashier at manual toll collection (MTC) centres in expressways takes around 12 to 15 seconds to collect the toll from a single vehicle and hand back the receipt. The ETC could reduce this to around six seconds and help the vehicles leaving the expressways faster. This would be very helpful during rush-hours where we usually see lines of vehicles at toll collection centres, the minister said.

Minister Fernando said that ETCs are currently installed at the Colombo - Katunayake Expressway and they would be introduced to other toll collection centres and inter-changes soon.

He said that it has been found by many studies that highway vehicle emissions could result in adverse health problems to nearby residents and workers, especially during traffic congestion. In response, the policy to promote ETC could help alleviate traffic congestion, as compared to MTC. That could also help reduce air pollution and improve public health.

“Expressway users too can help promote this by starting to use pre-paid ETC cards. If we promote the ETC pre-paid card system it could help reduce traffic congestion at inter-changes by allowing drivers to move in and out of toll systems without delay. The ETCs can improve the speed and efficiency of traffic flow and save drivers’ time.

According to foreign studies, the MTCs can handle only about 350 vehicles per hour while an ETC counter could process around 1,200 vehicles per hour. As a result of better flow, congestion is reduced, fuel economy is improved, and pollution is reduced. It could help increase revenue because of time savings, faster throughput, and better service to attract more customers. It has been observed that ETCs could reduce accident rates and improve safety because of less slow-and-go driving. This will increase efficiency of roads because of better distribution between tolled and non-tolled routes,” the Minister said.

“In short, ETCs mean reduced delay, reduced fuel consumption, and reduced emissions,’ the minister ," he stressed.

He said that while he had been travelling recently in expressways, it was noticed that some cashier counters at MTCs were shut down. “When I made inquiries from ministry officials I was told that there was a shortage of cashiers to serve in toll collection centres. Some of those who had obtained appointments as cashiers in the expressways have been deployed as management assistants at regional offices citing service requirements. I instructed officials to redeploy them to counters so that it could help speed up the MTC process till we introduce ETCs to all roads.” he said in this regard.

The minister issued those instructions during a meeting held at the Highways Ministry to review the progress of Expressways Operational Management Unit and its future course of action.( Yohan Perera)

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