For the first time in Bangladesh, the roads authorities have introduced automatic toll collection at three major bridges -- the Meghna, Gomoti and Bhairob bridges – that has eased long queues and waste of time at the pass-through points.
The Roads and Highways Department hopes to bring the whole country under electronic toll collection systems, in phases.
"We are working to introduce this digital method of collecting toll on all the bridges in the country, in phases," said Abdus Sabur. Additional Chief Engineer, Dhaka Zone of Department of Roads and Highways.
Due to the weight-related issues, cargo vehicles like trucks and covered vans are excluded from the service as they have issues with weight measurement.
A private operating company, Computer Networks Limited, has installed radio frequency identification readers on the Meghna, Gomoti and Bhairob bridges.
The readers communicate with radio frequency identification devices attached to vehicles and automatically deduct toll fees.
Vehicles do not have to wait at the toll centres and pay manually, saving huge time for travelers.
Vehicles owners will have to have accounts with the Dutch-Bangla Bank or a Rocket mobile banking account.
They can get registered for the fast track automatic service through the bank, or at the toll plaza.
Once registered, they can start using electronic toll collection and pass through bridges without having to wait in queues.
For Mohiuddin Ahmed, a microbus driver who has been crossing the road for many years, it saves time. "Earlier I had to stop the microbus, hand over money and collect a token," said 30-year old Mohiuddin.
When a vehicle passes through a toll plaza, the devices instantly read registration number and the class of vehicle and take the toll without even stopping the vehicle.
According to the class of vehicles, a predetermined amount of toll is deducted from the bank account of the vehicle owners and they are sent SMS notifications.
The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority is setting Radio Frequency Identification stickers on the windshields of vehicles for electronic toll collection.
However, Computer Networks Limited, the company that implemented the electronic toll collection says not that many cars are registering with the system.
Out of the nine lanes in the Meghna Bridge toll plaza, only one lane is dedicated to fast track service.
Another lane is ready for use, but it hasn't been made operative due to lack of demand.
Nayan Biswas, System Engineer, Computer Network Systems, told The Business Standard that every day about 15,000 vehicles cross the bridge. Of them, nearly 5,000 are buses.
"We are not getting expected response. I think most people don't know about the service," said Nayan Biswas.
On 23 September, 118 vehicles took the Fast Track service. The Ena Transport's 120 buses go to Chattogram, Feni and Cox's Bazar through Meghna and Gomoti Bridge every day.
The company registered around 80 buses for fast track service in the last four months.
Atikul Alam, general manager of the company, say they are going to register all the buses for the service.
"Once the toll is deducted, we get an sms confirmation. Our passengers are happy too because it saves their time," said Atikul Alam.
Ziaul Hasan Sarwar, executive director of Computer Network Service, said his company will advertise the service so that more people get into the system.
"Every day two or three vehicles are getting registered with the service. We hope the number will increase when people come to know about it," he said.