Toll roads in India were very rare a decade ago. Then only highways used to be tolled and those traveling interstate only had to cough up tolls. Now every other road is getting converted into toll roads- irrespective of how good they are and what value they add. In some cities like Bangalore, there’re alternate roads if you don’t want to use toll road (example Electronic city flyover, NICE Road etc) but in cities like Chennai, there’re no alternatives.
This post is about some of the nuisances of toll roads- particularly to the residents who reside around the area.
- On theory, residents along the roll roads will be given a pass which allows them to use the road without paying the toll, but practicality is different. Below are some of the key points:
- Only those who own a vehicle will get the pass- one should give details of the vehicle and vehicle registration address should be inside the roll area. This raises following questions: what about who don’t own a car but use a rented vehicle? Since they are bonafide residents of the area they should be allowed to go free. But this doesn’t happen.
- When car pooling, if the other car doesn’t have a pass, bonafide residents have to shell out money
- Pass is not applicable to commercial vehicles. If I am a taxi driver and if my home is inside toll area, end of the day I wish to go home and rest, but toll gate won’t let me through for free, since mine is a commercial vehicle.
- One should give passport as a address proof- getting passport is a big mess at present and toll company will not reimburse thousands one has to shell out to get passport. Why not accept other govt documents? Why should one get a passport for toll purpose if he/she never plans to leave the country?
- Toll companies set up barricades on the bylanes around the toll plaza- this is to prevent vehicles from using these roads and not paying toll- but this causes inconvenience to local resides, as they need to take a longer route and pay toll, if their home happens to be on the wrong side of the barricare. What is their fault?
- There is no SLA for toll companies to fix the potholes or complete work. In Chennai’s OMR, 3 full years since toll collection has started, service road is yet to be completed, bus shelters are yet to be created, people hardly use FOBS. Several highways – particularly NH4 near Sriperambadur and road between Krishnagiri and Salem section have developed lots of bad sections. Even after months they’re not fixed. If the roads are not maintained, tolls should be discounted no?
- Even when part of the roads are under construction, there's no discount on toll fee. Travel between Tumkur-Chitradurga to experience this.
- Local residents will have to shell more fuel, because they need to go kms at a stretch to take a U-turn. Some provisions are made for people to cross roll roads- FOB etc, but what about animals- how are they supposed to cross the road? Locals also pay with their life due to speeding traffic on toll roads.
- Smart card schemes are available to enable speedy clearance at toll gates, but the customers are charged extra towards maintenance of smart card system- Isn’t the toll company also a beneficiary of this? (as they can have more cars passing through in given amount of time)
- Return ticket validation is limited to 24 hours (sometimes till same day mid night)- why not 1 week? Those leaving Friday night and returning Monday morning will have to buy two one way tickets.
- In South India tolls are relatively less. In Maharastra locals set up their own toll booths and loot from outstation vehicles.
- In Chennai, one of the gates of IT Park is intentionally kept closed, to ensure that everyone uses the longer road that passes through toll gate…
I don’t have any solutions to this- just sharing my opinion