With the road sector growing at a pace of 9%, the government is now all set to monetise the traffic growth by introducing for the first time a tolling policy for highways. Road commuters will now pay out a higher toll if they happen to hit the highway at peak hours. The proposed new policy is likely to introduce peak and non-peak toll rates, tolling of two lane highways and a fixed and variable component to calculate tolling rates in case of cost escalation.
New policy to introduce peak and non-peak toll rates
The government may also toll two-lane highways
The toll rate for two-laned highways may be 70% of the rate of four-lane ones
The policy will be annexured to the model concession agreement
The idea of differential tolling fee has been mooted by the Planning Commission. It has suggested different rates for peak and non-peak hours, a government source said. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has, however, expressed its reservation, saying that idea is premature. A number of countries have different rates for peak and non-peak hours. This concept can only be appreciated in a few years from now, since the tolling concept is still relatively new, an NHAI official said.
The government is also considering to toll two-lane highways. At present, only four and six-lane highways are tolled. The bulk of roads in India is two-laned. The toll rate for two-laned highways is expected to be 70% of the rate of four-lane ones, sources said. It is expected that the tolling of two-lane highways may simultaneously offer better facilities to users.
Most two-lane highways are seven metres in width. If the government decides to toll them, the width will have to be increased to 10 metres, the official said. Other facilities may include provisions of ambulances for trauma care, emphasising that users are provided with improved road infrastructure, he added.
The proposed tolling policy may also include a formula for incorporating cost escalation in increasing tolls. Tolling formula is linked to the Wholesale Price Index (WPI). At present, 40% of the increase in WPI is added to the toll rates. The new policy has laid out that a fixed additional charge of 3% will be added to the 40% of increase in WPI to incorporate cost escalation.
The tolling policy will be annexured to the model concession agreement (MCA) which will be finalised in a month, according to a senior government official said.