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High-tech tolls system means non-stop traffic

Electronic toll tags for cars using Shanghai's expressways go on sale in Shanghai today.


Electronic toll collection is being introduced in Shanghai and neighboring provinces in the Yangtze River Delta Region to speed up traffic flow.


About 30 percent of Shanghai's toll booths have now been fitted with the new equipment, the local transport administration said.


Cars owners can buy the tags which will be recognized through radio frequency keyed computers installed at the toll stations.


Drivers who are registered will then have the cost of the toll automatically deducted from their accounts and can drive through without stopping.


The Shanghai Public Transport Card Co, which issues the tags, said 30 outlets of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China will begin selling the car tags and linked cards today.


A tag and a card will retail for 430 yuan (US$63). The tag itself is the size of a pocket camera. It can be pasted at the top of the windscreen with the card inside.


The company can carry out the installation.


Drivers can buy a prepaid card to go with the tag or get a special credit card linked to a bank account.


"We have already received orders for the tags from several companies so far. At this stage priority will be given to corporate users and private car owners might have to wait a while for installation," Ma Xiaofeng, a marketing department manager for the company, said yesterday.


The transport authority is urging transport companies, as frequent users of the provincial roads, to enroll in the e-toll program to help improve traffic flows.


The transport authority aims to have 300,000 city vehicles enrolled in this system over the next four years when e-tolls will start improving traffic flow more obviously.


Shanghai is home to 1.3 million vehicles and the number grows 10 percent each year.


The electronic toll system is not expected to speed up traffic flows until 30 to 40 percent of regular road users are enrolled, transport officials said.


The same system is also being introduced on expressways connecting Shanghai with the neighboring provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui and Jiangxi.


(Shanghai Daily December 22, 2008)