Electronic Tolls are common in Western countries. A 2016 study by IIM, Kolkata said the country suffers losses of nearly Rs 40,000 crore per year due to delays in transportation. The study also said the delays led to consumption of fuel worth Rs 90,000 crore. India got its electronic toll tag, FASTag, in 2014.
The real push from the govt of India started in later part of 2016. From December 2017 all new cars are mandated to have FASTags at the time of registration (a very good move). Leading banks have been authorized to issue FASTags for your vehicles. The signup & activation process is straightforward. The real issue is with the product.
National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has authorised several banks to handle the payments part of FASTag. One can access their FASTag account by visiting the issuing bank’s website. I have my FASTag accounts with HDFC and Axis Banks. I would have preferred to have the multiple tags with one bank but when you buy a new car you are not given a choice of the bank you would like to be with, this needs to change.
A lot more has to be done about educating people about the benefits of using FASTag, after all, one saves time & money with this. Before long weekends there has to be a lot of publicity for FASTag signups. Why not have signup booths in restaurants on highways only during long weekends?
Product improvements needed,
- Standardize the URL of FASTag account in every bank. It should be http://fastag.bankname.com. Currently, it is different – https://fastag.hdfcbank.com/RetailRoadUserLogin,
- Customers should be able to move their wallet between banks (charge a nominal fee for the transfer). This will help customers to consolidate their multiple accounts to one bank.
- OTP is never delivered to your mobile.
- Wallet balance is not shown on the opening screen of your account, you have to go thru few clicks.
- When you go thru a toll booth you don’t receive that usage notification immediately on your mobile. At times you never receive the SMS notification.
- Yesterday at a toll booth I wasn’t able to use FASTag as the account was Blacklisted! I never received an SMS about this and there is no info about the reason in the account dashboard. I tried calling their toll free number for support, it says the number is not operational. I tried raising a support ticket but I could not submit without verifying the OTP (which I never received).
- Each bank must provide support thru Twitter (on the lines of this provider)
- The user interface (UI/UX) of FASTag account needs a huge makeover. NHAI must insist on FASTag UI supporting multiple Indian languages, currently, it is in English only.
- Few toll booths support FASTag in every lane, a good move.
- The numbering of toll booth lanes must be standardised – few toll booths are numbered 1-6 (left to right), few have it the other way 6-1 (left to right).
- Lane #1 must always be FASTag ONLY lane in all toll booths. If you assume this is the case you land up in the wrong end of the toll booth!
- Those who enter the FASTag ONLY lane without a tag should be heavily penalized. I have seen drivers almost getting out of the cars to get physical with the toll booth operators.
- Mobile app is just not user-friendly. Especially with such long customer id or wallet numbers, it is impossible to login to the mobile app.
If FASTag usage needs to get better they need to do the following,
- Focus on usability issues on the desktop portal and mobile app.
- Introduce languages on portal & mobile app.
- SMS notifications must be prompt.
- Support phone numbers must be functional.
- Make the process of topping up / recharge easier. Don’t force the user to login to recharge. Learn from mobile recharge model.
- Use language media in the digital world to increase the awareness of FASTag.
Update: A report on July 9, 2019, says 30% of all tolls collected from 400+ toll booths managed by NHAI is done electronically. The government wants to make it 100% by October 2019. An unrealistic target.