Vietnam on Tuesday announced a new plan to replace toll takers with electronic collection systems on the National Highway 1A and Ho Chi Minh Highway, a move that aims to eliminate delay at toll gates and cut costs.“Three ETC stations have been put into use, in Hanoi, Quang Binh and the Central Highlands, on a trial basis,” Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Hong Truong said at a press briefing in Hanoi.
An ETC station determines whether vehicles are enrolled in the program, alerts toll collectors about those that are not, and electronically debits from the accounts of registered car owners without requiring them to stop.
Truong said the new system will gradually replace all current toll gates, including 35 on the National Highway 1A alone.
In order to use the system, vehicles have to be equipped with a tag on its windshield with electronic information to be read by the station’s sensor.
Vehicles without the tag will have to stop and pay manually, the ministry said.
The transport ministry said it is considering upgrading toll stations so that they can also automatically detect overloaded trucks.
The new system is expected to save costs significantly due to less personnel and no more delay on toll roads.
“Taiwan has 127 people operating 350 toll stations nationwide while Vietnam has 100-120 for just one station alone,” Truong said.
“The new system requires only 10 people per station.”
According to Pham Hung Dung, chairman of TASCO, a company that invests in most of Vietnam’s toll stations, around 100 ETC stations in total will be launched by the end of 2016, when the upgrading of the National Highway 1A and Ho Chi Minh Highway completes.
“These ETC stations will reduce operating costs by VND3.4 trillion (US$159 million) a year in comparison to traditional toll gates,” he said.
Ho Chi Minh and 1A are two major highways that run from the north to the south.
The National Highway 1A connects Lang Son and Ca Mau, running more than 2,300 km (1,430 miles) through 32 cities and provinces.
Meanwhile, the Ho Chi Minh Highway runs along the west side of the country, connecting Cao Bang and Ca Mau via the Central Highlands with a total length of 3,167 km.