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Bandra-Worli Sea Link Goes RFID [No stopping at the toll booth!]

Mumbai’s transport authorities have introduced a radio frequency based electronic toll collection system on the Bandra- Worli sea link to speed up traffic movement on the 5.6 km cable stayed bridge linking two of the busiest parts of the city.

The new toll collection system– an early experiment in the country to address worsening traffic congestion– is based on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and is expected to further cut travel time between Bandra and Worli for tens of thousands of vehicles every day.Mumbai_India_Bridge_

India’s financial capital Mumbai has legendary traffic problems. It sometimes takes about an hour to cross a 5 Kms stretch and authorities have been experimenting with technology based approaches to solve the traffic problem.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a contact less system that makes use of radio signals to communicate between a tag and a reader and are being put to various applications these days.

This is one of the early experiments with RFID to ease India’s growing traffic problem. The country’s first RFID technology based toll plaza was launched at Chandimandir near Punchkula in Haryana on Delhi-Chandigarh highway, in April earlier this year.

Commuters will not have to stop at the toll booth, as the new system will deduct toll automatically from a users account, working like a pre-paid mobile subscription. Similar to how your call charges are deducted after every call, the  toll amount will be deducted automatically every time you pass through the toll plaza.

At the Bandra Worli sea link, motorists will need to purchase RFID stickers from the toll booth worth Rs 100 and stick them on to the windscreen of the car. Presently, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) uses smart cards for motorists, wherein they buy purchase the card for a month’s validity and need to show it every time they cross over through the toll booth.

In the new system, one can buy the RFID pass for a month’s validity or for 100 single or 50 single journeys and zip past the toll booths. Essentially, it works well only for motorists who use the sea link frequently or every day. One lane on either side of the sea link has been dedicated to the system.

Users will also receive text alerts showing usage details of his subscription. There are plans to install similar systems at the five other entry points to the city.

The corporation is also planning to install an electronic display system at 27 new toll plazas in the state where motorists can see the amount of toll collected since the plaza was opened.

Technology may not be the only answer to Mumbai’s traffic woes, but however small, it could make a difference.

What are your thoughts?

[Image credit: wikipedia]

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