State’s assurance that toll won’t be collected if traffic backs up beyond specified yellow is not being heeded at toll booths
Traffic congestion crossing the yellow line at Mulund toll plaza. Pic/Rajesh Gupta
The government’s announcement that tolls would be waived if traffic extended beyond the yellow line appeared to be merely a paper-based directive. Recent visits by mid-day to the Dahisar and Mulund toll plazas revealed that motorists were still required to pay tolls even during peak traffic hours when the traffic crossed the yellow line.
MNS Chief Raj Thackeray and Minister Dada Bhuse met at Thackeray’s residence on October 13 to discuss the toll issue. Following the meeting, a press conference was held where they conveyed an agreement between MNS and the government to hold toll operators accountable and enhance transparency in the toll collection process at five toll entry points in Mumbai and on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
Traffic congestion at Dahisar toll plaza. Pic/Prasun Choudhari
During the press conference, they also announced that a yellow line would be drawn approximately 200-300 metres before the toll collection booth. If the line of vehicles extended beyond this yellow line, the vehicles between the yellow line and the toll booth would be allowed to proceed without paying tolls to prevent traffic congestion.
MNS Adhikrut, the official MNS Twitter handle, even tweeted on October 16, “The yellow line system will be reinstated at each toll booth. If the queue extends beyond this yellow line, all vehicles will be allowed to pass without tolls until the queue shortens.” To verify the on-ground situation, mid-day visited the Dahisar toll plaza on the Western Express Highway and the Mulund toll plaza on the Eastern Express Highway. During these visits and interactions with motorists, many complained that the yellow line rule was not being enforced. Sometimes, the toll was deducted from their FASTag even before they had a chance to discuss the yellow line exemption with the toll booth operator.
Suresh Chandaliya; Sandeep Singh; Ram Singh Pal
Suresh Chandaliya, a regular commuter, said, “The FASTag system was meant to streamline our daily commute, but in my experience, it’s far from smooth. Many times, my FASTag account gets charged before I even approach the toll booth personnel regarding the yellow line waiver.” Another regular commuter at the Dahisar toll plaza commented, “No matter how long the toll queue is, we are still required to pay. The yellow line is just a concept. Many times, my vehicle is stuck way behind the yellow line, but the officials still charge the toll.”
Sandeep Singh, a commuter at the Dahisar toll plaza, added, “The average wait time at this toll naka is around 25-30 minutes during peak hours. I’m not sure why they charge toll if the wait time is so long.”Aashim Sheikh, a regular traveller from Mumbai to Thane, remarked, “I am not aware of the yellow line rule, but based on my regular travelling experience at the Mulund toll plaza, I can say that even if the toll queue is a kilometre long, the toll is still charged.”
Ram Singh Pal, a tempo owner passing through the Mulund toll plaza, said, “I don’t travel regularly, but when I do travel during peak hours, the traffic congestion at the toll plaza is so bad that it takes around half an hour just to pass through.” Amar Vatkar, another commuter, said, “The lack of awareness about this rule among toll booth operators and motorists is evident. This disconnect between the promise and reality is disappointing and adds to the frustrations of daily travel.”
Mukesh Chaurasiya; Amar Vatkar; Aashim Sheikh
Mukesh Chaurasiya, a regular traveller, said, “I generally travel in many parts of the state, but my worst experience is always with the Mumbai toll booths. At times, the congestion is so bad that it takes a lot of time just to pass the plaza. The worst case is during weekends. The congestion has sometimes even cost me more than an hour just to pass the toll booth.” However, when mid-day attempted to speak with toll plaza managers at the Mulund and Dahisar toll plazas, the officials denied sharing any information.
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