EghtesadOnline: Plans are on track in Iran to replace human-staffed toll booths with a smart and cashless Electronic Toll Collection system on 10 major freeways, a deputy roads minister said.
Hossein Mirshafiei is also quoted on the ministry’s website, “The ETC system, which was launched on four major freeways on the eve of Norouz [the Iranian New Year that started on March 21], has delivered satisfactory results. Failings of the system have been addressed and it will be used on 10 more freeways.”
Over the past few months and following the launch, six million drivers have paid toll fees through the smart system.
“By July 22, the ETC system will become operational in 10 more freeways,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
The move is part of a project of Roads Ministry. If it produces the desired results, the automated toll system will be implemented throughout the country.
So far, Tehran-Saveh, Tehran-Qom, Qazvin-Rasht and Qazvin-Zanjan highways have been equipped with the ETC system.
How It Works
Vehicles will be identified with the help of two technologies. Car owners can purchase special labels and install them on their vehicles, which can be easily detected by the ETC monitoring device.
In addition, the new system also identifies vehicles at the gate through license plate recognition cameras.
The same monitoring system used by traffic police for detecting traffic violators via surveillance cameras can be used for implementing ETC. The license plate of vehicles will be recorded by the cameras.
Data gathered by cameras and the license plates can be paired with the car owners’ identity using the Traffic Police database.
Different vehicles (cars, vans, cabs and trucks) have different toll rates, making it necessary to distinguish the type of vehicle passing through the toll area. Data gathered via cameras can be used for determining each vehicle category and type.
Drivers are required to sign up on a smartphone application (available on the ministry’s website for download) in advance and charge their account. The toll amount will be deducted from the account when drivers pass through the toll point.
In addition to the app, toll fees can be paid through NSPAY.ir or a USSD service by dialing *720*8# on mobile phones.
The system can also be used to detect cars that evade paying the toll, which is a traffic violation. Drivers who refuse to pay the toll fee will be fined.
The implementation of ETC will also help eliminate the long queues of vehicles in toll lines and help reduce travel time.
Norway is a pioneer in the application of this technology. ETC was first introduced in Bergen, in 1986, which operated together with traditional toll booths.
While the implementation of ETC can make toll collection easier for state authorities, the plan introduced in Iran does not offer any incentives to encourage people to use the services.
Independent observers have pointed out that installing a mobile app, charging it before hitting the road and other steps travelers are required to take for using ETC are time-consuming and will certainly discourage users.