ETCs to make expressways more efficient
BY NABIYA VAFFOOR
Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said steps would be taken to implement Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) on expressways to ease traffic congestion, delay, fuel use, and vehicle emissions. He claims that a cashier at an expressway’s Manual Toll Collection (MTC) centre takes about 12 to 15 seconds to collect the toll from a single car and hand back the receipt. “The ETC could cut this to roughly six seconds, allowing vehicles to exit the expressways more quickly. This would be quite useful during rush hours, when we frequently see long lineups of vehicles at toll collection centres,” Fernando explained.
ETCs are currently fitted on the ColomboKatunayake expressway, and will be introduced to other toll collection centres and interchanges in the near future. “Expressway customers can help promote this as well by beginning to utilise pre-paid ETC cards. If we promote the ETC pre-paid card system, we may be able to minimise traffic congestion at interchanges by allowing drivers to enter and exit toll systems without delay. ETCs can improve traffic flow speed and efficiency while saving drivers time. According to overseas studies, MTCs can only handle about 350 vehicles per hour, whereas an ETC counter can handle roughly 1,200 vehicles per hour.
By improving flow, congestion is lessened, fuel economy improves and pollution is reduced. It may assist improve income by attracting more consumers through time savings, faster throughput, and better service. ETCs have been shown to lower accident rates and improve safety by reducing slow-and-go driving. Because of the improved distribution of tolled and non-tolled routes, road efficiency would improve,” Fernando explained. He also noted that he saw certain MTC counters closed while traveling on expressways recently.
“When I spoke with Ministry officials, I was told there was a paucity of cashiers to work in toll collection centres.” Some of those who had been assigned as expressway cashiers have been assigned as management assistants at regional offices, citing service requirements. I instructed officials to redeploy them to counters to help speed up the MTC procedure until we implement ETCs on all highways,” Fernando added.
Fernando gave the orders during a meeting at the Highways Ministry to review the development of the Expressways Operational Management Unit and its future course of action. Among those present were Secretary to the Ministry of Highways RWR Pemasiri, Director General of the Road Development Authority Sardha Weerakoon and other officials including the director of the Expressways Operational Management Unit.