Solutions needed for full electronic toll collection

August 12, 2022 - 06:58
One week after the full electronic toll collection (ETC) officially went into operation, motorists are reporting technical difficulties in using the system.
A toll point on Hà Nội - Hải Phòng Expressway with the electronic toll collection (ETC) system. — VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hùng

HÀ NỘI — One week after the full electronic toll collection (ETC) officially went into operation, motorists are reporting technical difficulties in using the system.

According to the deputy director Việt Nam Expressway Corporation (VEC) Nguyễn Văn Nhi, a majority of these technical glitches are due to unactivated and invalid accounts, or the delay in transaction between the drivers’ bank accounts and their ETC payment accounts.

In several cases, the toll collection readers fail to read old, deteriorating ETC tags.

Others report slow recognition, physical barriers being out of sync with the system, and that some tags were not correctly installed - which caused inconvenience for motorists and traffic congestion at toll points.

Nhi added: “VEC’s toll collection system has just been put into operation, therefore it will take some time to adjust and perfect.

“The staff are also new to resolving cases relating to automatic toll collection.”

Lê Văn Hùng, manager of the first toll point on Hà Nội - Hải Phòng Expressway said that at the start of the ETC-only pilot programme in June, there were only about 76 per cent of vehicles using the service. This figure has now increased to approximately 98 per cent.

His toll point was the first to deploy ETC in the country and has been using the system for the past two months.

Hùng also pointed out numerous issues during operation, such as drivers forgetting to top up their ETC accounts, or difficulties to switch between ETC service providers.

Meanwhile, many other motorists install two or more ETC tags, and there are a significant amount of faulty or damaged tags - which creates confusion for the tag reading system.

Hùng said: “If these issues are not addressed, these vehicles will still need to stop at toll points, which is time-consuming and increases the risk of collisions in ETC lanes.”

Operation-wise, he added that staff could not look up the remaining balance in the ePass system or the website provided by Việt Nam Electronic Toll Collection Company (VETC).

On the other hand, vehicle owners are raising questions as to who will take the responsibility in cases of technical errors, if drivers already follow the rules.

Phạm Văn Hòa, a cargo driver on the Hà Nội - Lào Cai route said that if motorists fail to install ETC tags or keep up their transport account balance, they could face a fine of up to VNĐ2 million (US$85) and up to three months suspension.

Then, what are the responsibilities of service providers in case of tag recognition failures, delayed transactions or faulty tags, among others.

Nguyễn Văn Quyền, chairman of Việt Nam Automobile Transport Association, said that current regulations only state the penalties for vehicle owners who fail to install ETC tags and top up their transport accounts before entering the expressway.

It is necessary to add and specify the responsibilities of service providers in these regulations, he said.

In a recent meeting on ETC implementation progress, Vice Minister of Transport Lê Đình Thọ also asked service providers and operators to address the current issues in the ETC system.

He required that these units need to exert all resources for a duration of one month to serve people, forming their habits and let them see the value and benefits of ETC.

“In the immediate future, the task is to radically address the existing issues and recommend the Government to issue a higher-level legal framework than Decision 19/QĐ-TTg, ensuring the operational principles of ETC system in the long run with clear processes, standards and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders,” said Thọ. — VNS