One of the major hurdles of driving on Indian roads and highways is the long queues at toll plazas waiting to pay toll fee which is very time-consuming. As per the National Highways toll fee rules, the toll fare can be paid in cash, through smart card, any on board unit (transponder) or any other like device. In order to tackle this problem and to vanish such long queues, our government has come up with a magic wand "FASTag".
With effect from December 15, 2019, the government has mandated National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) electronic toll collection (ETC) via FASTags across national highways. This type of arrangement is required in order to reduce congestion at toll plazas so that fuel as well as traveling time of the persons can be saved. Further, it gives a major boost to enhance digital payments. It will also be helpful in solving the problems of drivers, particularly lorry or truck drivers, who face the biggest challenge of never ending toll queues.
What is FASTag?
FASTag is a device for making toll payments directly while the vehicle is in motion. It is linked to a prepaid wallet or bank account from which toll fare is automatically deducted. It uses passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. If you have sufficient amount in the FASTag linked wallet or bank account, you can drive through an ETC lanes at a highway toll plaza without stopping to pay the toll manually.
NPCI has developed NETC (National Electronic Toll Collection) System which facilities to make the toll payment electronically. Presently, over 600 toll plazas are live on FASTag and more number of toll plazas are getting added on a daily basis.
Currently, to promote usage of FASTag payment, NHAI is offering a cashback 2.5% on all toll payments done using FASTag. This cashback offer is valid till March-2020. The cash back amount will be credited back in the tag-linked account on a monthly basis.
1033 call centre (toll-free number) is set up by NHAI (government of India) for all road assistance to the highway user including FASTag. If FASTag is not acceptable at the toll plaza, you can call on the 1033 and lodge the complaint about it.
Is FASTag Mandatory?
From 15th December 2019, all lanes at National Highway toll plaza will be declared as dedicated FASTag Lane except for one Hybrid lane. Non-FASTag users will be charged double the fee if they pass through FASTag lanes.
You need to use only "FASTag marked lanes (ETC lanes)" at the toll plaza for FASTag as these lanes have the required RFID infrastructure installed to read FASTag. In case you enter cash-lane, the FASTag will not be read and cash needs to be paid.
Validity of FASTag
The FASTag is valid for 5 years from its purchase date. You need to recharge this FASTag based on your usage after purchasing it.
Charges of FASTag
FASTag will cost a maximum of Rs 100 as per the guideline issued by the government of India. It has been seen that there are some banks which are offering it free of cost. You need to pay additional money to fund the FASTag link wallet which is called "Recharge or Top-up" of FASTag.
Penalty Related to FASTag
Vehicle owners are required to pay twice the toll fare, if their vehicles enter the ETC lane (electronic toll collection lane) without a FASTag.
Where is FASTag Affixed?
FASTag (RFID Tag) is affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle (on the windshield of the vehicle) and enables a customer to make the toll payments directly from the account which is linked to FASTag. FASTag is a sticker which becomes the radio frequency identity of your vehicle which is automatically read by the sensors placed at ETC lanes (FASTag lanes) at the toll plazas.
Please note that once affixed, FASTag cannot be removed as it will get destroyed and will not work at the toll plaza.
FASTag Wallet Balance Enquiry
You need to give a missed call from your registered mobile number to +91-8884333331 to get the balance in the FASTag wallet. The facility is available 24X7 and is compatible with all mobile phone operators. Note that only NHAI FASTag users can avail of this facility.
Points to Note Regarding FASTag
- The government has rolled out FASTag-based electronic toll collection mechanism from December 15 across all toll plazas of the NHAI
- Toll Fare will be same for any mode of payment at the toll. One may have benefit of cashback, if they pay through FASTag
- You cannot use one FASTag for two or more vehicles, you will have to buy two separate FASTags for the two vehicles
- If you reside within a range of 10 km from the toll plaza, you can avail a concession on toll to be paid via your FASTag
- Double penalty imposed for cash payment in ETC (electronic toll collection) lanes
- From January 15, 2020, only one hybrid lane in each direction will be allowed at toll plazas in the country
- 1.26 crores FASTags issued till January 9, 2020
- FASTags-based toll collection system has been rolled out across over 527 national highways
- Around 27,000 PoS have been established by banks and NHAI in the country for sale of FASTags
- The government has also decided to declare all lanes at toll fee plaza on national highways as 'FASTag lanes' from December 15, 2019 to ensure seamless traffic and prevent congestion at toll plazas
- Usage of FASTag payments is expected to save over Rs 60,000 crores in fuel bills across India