Gurgaon Toll Collectors’ Agony

Today morning at 10 am.

I spent about 12 minutes at the toll gate to pay for my toll fee. Here is an outcome of my thought process:

16 lanes x 25 per lane = roughly 400 cars waiting to pay their toll at Gurgaon. Anybody will hate that in the morning hours.

Current processing time per car: 5 seconds after it has come to rest at the gate (amazing human feat by the way). It sometimes increases to a max of 20 seconds but they know to keep it under check. After all there are TWO people at every collector gate. The redundancy – impressive! Hats off to the people who return change against Rs 100, Rs 50 with efficiency that can only be matched by an automatic currency counting machine.

I still couldn’t help thinking how shitty the whole thing is. But it turns out I’m wrong.

A car with a toll reader can pass through the gates at 20 kmph. So the effective time per car is 9 seconds for 50 meters of ground to cover.

Given that the current system is already running at 5 seconds + ground to cover, the marginal gains wouldn’t be much. At 33% improvement in latency, the queue would’ve been 17 cars long if not 25: a difference that is hardly perceivable by you or I.

Moreover, the government legislated that if the queue exceeds a certain length the cars would be let through without payment to keep queues in check.

My point is that there is so little to be done to improve the system from where it already is!

I assumed that the company was short-sighted in not opening automatic toll gates but turns out I was wrong.

Now one must remember that the number of cars that pass by this toll section is perhaps the most in the world. Even more than say, Lincoln Tunnel in NYC.

The Indian jugaad/not-so-tech-savvy story here isn’t as bad as I’d earlier assumed it to be. I spent the day judging the toll road management company and when I came down to writing this post I felt I was wrong. Those guys have done an awesome job and must be respected for what they’ve done in the current scenario.

What we need in Gurgaon are more roads. More than five times the number of roads as there are today. That’s when people will see an improvement in our daily commutes.