The rapid growth in the economy and social development has led to the requirement of road networks in India. India stands at the second position in terms of the length of the road network with more than 5.89 million km length of the road network. This road network transports 64.5% of all goods in the country and 90% of India's total passenger traffic uses road network to commute. Considering the extensive growth of vehicular ownership, highway traffic in India has been increasing at a fast pace each year. Over 50 lakh Indians use National Highways to commute every day.
Currently, the toll payment at toll plazas is either through cash or through Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) mode. This ETC mode is enabled by RFID based technology, wherein, an RFID sticker (FASTag) is affixed to the windshield of the vehicle, and it is read by an RFID reader equipment installed at the toll plazas. As of now, FASTag is operational across more than 900 toll plazas including toll plazas along National Highways and State Highways. The Government of India has taken progressive measures to mandate FASTag at all NH fee plazas w.e.f. 16 February 2021 by declaring all NH fee plaza lanes as “FASTag lane of the fee plaza.”
Presently, the NH toll plazas are operated in barrier tolling mode ((also known as an open toll system) where toll are collected from road users using toll barriers (plazas) at regularly spaced intervals along national highways. And the toll rates are based on the type/category of vehicle. The current toll design causes frequent disruption to traffic, especially on highly congested networks. Moreover, the current design is incidence-based tolling where vehicles end up paying toll fare only if they cross a physical toll plaza. In today’s scenario when the businesses are going global and demand and supply ratio is at a staggering high, the increase in the number of the vehicles is not surprising. No doubt that the highway networks are becoming increasingly busier.
To address above problems, IHMCL is exploring the option of barrier-less free flow system and Intelligent Traffic Management System in India. The objective of barrier-less free flow tolling system is to enable vehicles to cruise through highways without the need to slow down/stop at any tolling points based on “Pay-as-you-use” concept. It is also envisaged to make National Highways smarter with implementation of world-class Intelligent Traffic Management System/solutions to improve the flow of vehicle traffic along with safety of road users.
With a view to leveraging the innovations by the Indian entrepreneurs and in line with mission of Digital India, Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) seeks to organize Hackathon with Indian start-ups and premier Institutions for cost effective smart
tolling solutions-based barrier-less free-flow tolling system and Intelligent Traffic Management System.
1. Barrier-less free-flow tolling system
1.1 Waiting time at toll plaza booths
In the current system of barrier tolling on National Highways in India, the vehicles have to stop to pay by cash or slow down near the RFID reader range/pay-axis at toll plaza. During this process, a vehicle first decelerates, joins the queue and pays the toll at tollbooths. Afterwards, the vehicle accelerates and regains the stream speed. The overall process causes delay to each approaching vehicle due to deceleration and waiting time in the queue, service time at the toll-booth. This leads to an overall significant socio-economic loss to the country on account of toll plazas due to factors such as unwanted loss of fuel & passenger time, opportunity cost due to wait time, as well as increase in air pollution in the vicinity due to vehicular emissions, etc. Thus, toll barriers are acting as the major bottlenecks on the highway causing delay to the road users. Although, the scenario has significantly improved since the advent of FASTag system, however, there still scope of improvement and a need to upgrade to a barrier-less free flow tolling system.
1.2 Point-based tolling system (Flat toll rate)
Currently, India is using barrier toll system method for collecting tolls on National Highways. Road Users are typically charged a flat-rate toll. The existing system charges road users for an entire section of road, even if they use a small part of the road stretch and exit thereafter. On the contrary, there are several vehicles using significant section of a road stretch do not pay any toll if they exit the highway just prior to the approach toll plaza. This results in an inequitable system for toll collection from road users.
2. Intelligent Traffic Management System
2.1 Increased number of road accidents
Road accidents continue to be a leading cause of death, disabilities and hospitalization in the country. According to the report published by MoRTH (Road Accidents in India 2019), India ranks first in the number of road accident deaths across the 199 countries and accounts for almost 11% of the accident-related deaths in the World. National Highways which comprise of 2.03 percent of total road network, continued to account for a disproportionate share of 35.7 per cent of deaths in 2019 pointing to need for improved enforcement and correctives to be put on National Highways. State Highways which account for 3.01% of the road length accounted for 24.8 percent of deaths. Other Roads which constitute about 95 % of the total roads were responsible for the balance 39.5% deaths respectively.
Violation of Traffic Rules is a major cause for road accidents. In spite of imposing Hefty fines, strict vigilance from the traffic cops and awareness campaigns on the impact of bad driving, number of traffic rules violators is still increasing in India. Therefore, there is need to bring an efficient solution that supports discipline driving on NH, efficient Information sharing, processing, and dissemination with the stakeholders that shall help in prevention of the accidents.
2.2 Lack of efficient customer grievance handling mechanism for Highway Users
Often, there are complaints/ instances related to Highways such as poor quality of road, poor civic amenities at toll plazas, payment related issues, etc. Although there is National Helpline Number and Mobile App based facility to lodge a compliant. there is need to enhance customer grievance handling system in a time bound manner by setting up accountability and provide options to seek feedback from complainants regularly.
Barrier-less free-flow tolling system:
A) Zero waiting Time at Toll Booths/Zero Friction
To cope up with the problem of high waiting time at Toll Plaza booths, IHMCL is desirous to provide barrier less tolling experience to highway users where drivers will get charged the toll without having to stop, slow down, or stay in a given lane. The aim is to create a driving environment that could provide a free flow of traffic, without the bottlenecks associated with manual toll booths.
The objective is that there should be no speed reduction below the stated speed limit except of course when vehicles come on to the ramp or exit the highways where onramp and exit recommended speeds may be assumed. Similarly, users should face no harassment, e.g., if their wallet balance dips, they should get an alert and a day to refill without being stopped and harassed, a surcharge of Rs 50-100 can be added for example to encourage good behaviour.
B) Proportionate Tolling
IHMCL seeks to find a solution that will enable an effective implementation of pay as you use tolling design. In the new system, fare shall be charged basis of number of kilometres used by vehicle and by type of vehicle.
The solution should be resilient to Indian conditions - work in excess of 10 deg C of the maximum 10-year temperatures of the locations installed (both max, min), work under expected conditions of max Fog, dust, rain and other conditions, be resilient to failures in network and power as noted. The design should state % uptime of any given sensor, % uptime of any given junction/ fraud station and add up to a Gross Resilience number - which is how many Toll km worth of toll will be lost in worst case in a given year and a mechanism to statistically measure and audit this every quarter.
Intelligent Traffic Management System:
A) Safety of Road Users:
The solution shall provide necessary information on roads conditions, traffic, incidents, stopped vehicles, wrong direction driving, weather conditions, and environment to road users that will help in prevention of the accidents by early detection and management of incidents. It shall be able to provide the travel advisory & warning to the road users about the potential accidents. Also, Early incident detection and efficient information sharing with rescue team 24 hours a day 365 days a year will help to provide support to the accident victims to be rescued within the golden hour. The Solution shall support in speed regulation and discipline driving on National Highways by automatic over-speed detection and dissemination of information regarding defaulters and errant drivers to the concerned authorities for enforcement and e-challan to ultimately ensure safe travel.
B) One-Stop customer centric Information system for Highway Users
The solution shall provide adequate information regarding procedure for raising complaints, Grievance handling process, escalation matrix, etc. It should be able to provide mobile-app based solution with all the information pertaining to NH, SH and other road networks. The solution should be able to track the flow and pace of traffic to provide real-time traffic update and predict optimum routes based upon traffic mobilization patterns, vehicle categorization, accident occurrences, details of facilities available on the NH stretch and levels of precipitation to ensure Smooth and Uninterrupted Traffic flow. Additionally, it should be able to estimate the travel time between any two defined locations over the entire stretch along with associated toll charges.
By adoption of the solution, IHMCL shall be able to enhance the efficiency of Enforcement Management, Incident Management, Monitoring & Maintenance Control, Smoothing of Road Traffic Movement, Efficient Information sharing, processing, and dissemination with the stakeholders.
Scope of Work
The solutions developed by the interested entities will be used at National Highways/Toll plazas across the nation to improve travel experience of highway users.
• Which Technology shall be used
• System/Equipment used
• How will it work?
• Entire process flow
• Estimated Cost Structure
The applications received online will be scrutinized as per following procedure:
• The applications would be scrutinized using a pre-provided template by committee having expertise on the relevant domain area.
• Based on the initial scrutiny, the committee will further provide the list of top 25 applicants each in the field of tolling as well as Intelligent Traffic Management System who will pitch their solutions before a Jury comprising of experts in the respective areas especially constituted to adjudicate the contestants.
• The Jury would shortlist the top 05 applicants for each solution who will be showing the efficacy of their respective solutions for possible integration in providing cost effective solutions to IHMCL. Each shortlisted applicant for the said activity will be rewarded with Rs. 10 Lakh each for covering their Infrastructure, logistics needs and development/integration needs.
• Subsequent to the successful testing of the solution, the Jury will announce winners for both the solutions who will be rewarded with Rs. 25 Lakh each.
A) The Indian Tech start-ups registered with DPIIT, MSMEs, Companies registered under Company Act 1956/2013, Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) firms registered in India can apply.
B) The entity must have 51% or more shareholding with Indian citizen or person of Indian origin and should be domiciled in India.
Designated Agencies and their Roles
• MeitY Startup Hub: For hosting, implementing and conducting the barrier-less free-flow Tolling and Intelligent Traffic Management System Challenge
• IHMCL: IHMCL will be the Sponsoring Agency
MeitY Startup Hub will be the executing agency for running the challenge. IHMCL will work closely with MeitY Startup Hub and provide the problem statement and institute awards to the winners. They will also provide necessary support, infrastructure, technological integration, and resources needed by start-ups for demonstrating the efficacy of the solution envisaged to be developed under the Challenge.
Through the successful execution of this Challenge, solutions will be identified as per the problems statements provided by IHMCL. The development, deployment, and integration of these solutions for creating barrier-free tolling system and intelligent traffic management system will be the primary outcome that will be benchmarked and assessed to evaluate the outcome of the Challenge.