A toll plaza is a collection of toll booths. Mostly when you are entering a new city you have to pay a type of tax, which is known as the toll, at these toll booths. This is in exchange of the services that you will be using within the city. If you have driven on roads then you must have come across at least one such toll plaza. These toll plazas are divided into lanes, some for incoming vehicles and some for outgoing vehicles. Each of these lanes have a toll booth, and a boom or cones at the end of the lane. When you pay the toll at the toll booth, either as cash or by credit or debit cards, the boom or cones at the end of the lane is removed and you are allowed to pass through. Now most of this toll management is done manually. So it is a very slow process which adversely affects the traffic.
The problem with toll plazas at peak hours
At peak hours, the traffic in one direction is much higher than the traffic in another direction. However, as the number of lanes are fixed in both directions, and so are the booms or cones, this increased traffic cannot be handled. Also, as most of the work is done manually, it is difficult to increase the efficiency either. So when at peak hours more and more vehicles come in and line up at these toll plazas, they have to wait for a longer time to get through than in other hours. This can be a very big problem, especially considering that the same toll management system has been used for all the years that you can remember and no improvement has been made whatsoever. That is why, the suggestion and implementation of an electronic alternative has been appreciated all across the country.
The electronic toll plaza
The main idea behind this toll management solution is to use electronics to do the work that was earlier done manually. This includes collecting the toll and moving the cones or boom at the end of the lane. The basic advantages of this includes.
- As the whole process is electronic, it is much faster than doing everything manually.
- As the cones or boom at the end of the lane is moved electronically, there are less number of people operating on the lanes at peak hours which results in more safety.
- The electronic boom barriers can be moved to other lanes to reverse the direction of the lanes. So if there is pressure in one direction only, the barriers could be moved so that more lanes are dedicated to that direction. The number of lanes dedicated to the other direction is reduced without problems.
The only requirement is that the barriers have the correct weight so that they are not too light to be blown away by high winds and too heavy to move.
The role of SANRAL in the introducing the new electronic solution
SANRAL or South African National Roads Agency Limited has introduced the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) in the country. They have made it possible for these systems to be installed in two of the major toll plazas in the country, and the result has been very promising. This electronic toll collection system makes it possible for vehicles to pay the toll in both directions. As a result more vehicles can pass through the toll booths per unit of time. This has helped reduce traffic problems considerably during peak hours. The toll plazas at Doornport and Pumulani in Bakwena is now enjoying the benefits of an electronic toll collection system. The electronic toll management solution has no adverse effect whatsoever.