I found something weird during a visit through the road toll collection booth at Moradabad when I passed through it last week. The image below shows two circles that are two consecutive toll collection points that charge the exact amount (Rs. 15/-). I passed through both and was subjected to two queues, a kilometer apart.
I couldn’t help but wonder and the most likely explanation in my mind was that highway toll collection was assigned to two different companies who managed different parts of the highway and since there was no simple way to allocate funds collected in one place (trust issues), it was probably their solution to setup two points for collection.
I was wrong though since on asking I found out that a number of vehicles go to alternate destinations south on the two roads marked there. Those vehicles who go through the entire toll road pass through two toll collection points and thereby paying the full toll (Rs. 30/-).
This method leaves a majority of people have to wait at two queues wasting double the time required in toll collection. I hated it instantly and also set out to think of how it could be done better in the first place.
I thought I had a very decent solution but I now know it is wrong and I understand the reason for the current solution to exist. It is not optimal and is doubly bad for the majority, but man honestly I don’t have a better solution. (Note: I have made some assumptions listed at the bottom of this post – those are valid for the context here so do read them).
So at this stage I invite you to give a better solution if you have any.
My original (but now rejected) solution is below: Red ones ask for Rs. 15/-, Blue ones ask for Rs. 30/-
– automatic toll deduction through a transponder won’t work because you need compliance from a large set of cars that are from another state.
– license plate recognition won’t work. You’d have towait for maybe another ten years till every car here has a machine readable number plate (States like Delhi have already started making them mandatory)
– A system where vehicles punch out an ‘entry’ ticket and that is used to calculate and charge toll at the exit points won’t work either. There will be an arbitration opportunity most likely exploited by some enterprising businessman who will sell lower toll fees entry cards to the incoming vehicles. Governance: Let’s not even think of solving that in this frame.