Automatic toll system at Demerara Bridge begins today

…as Top Cop reassesses strategy to ease traffic woes

The Demerara Harbour Bridge’s (DHB’s) automatic tolling system is set to be officially launched today.
This was revealed by General Manager of the DHBC, Wayne Watson, on Thursday.
According to Watson, in an interview with DPI, a number of Government vehicles already use the system, which has been successful. The system uses a radio frequency identification (RFID) strip, which is picked up by scanners installed above the toll booth.
“Based on your vehicle type, you purchase credits via MMG and, as you approach the toll station, based on your vehicle type in the registry, those deductions will be made as you traverse. So, you do not need to engage the toll clerks,” Watson said.
He added that despite the bridge being over 40 years old, the idea behind implementing the system is in preparation for future developments, making reference to the New Demerara River Bridge.
“It is not about the bridge, it is about trying to improve customer service, trying to improve the rate at which one person would have to stop and wait on change, or if you are driving a left-hand vehicle, you have to come out the vehicle to pay the toll. So this system will negate all those obstacles,” Watson stated.
Additionally, he said there are systems in place to ensure no one tries to outsmart the initiative. Watson said toll clerks will still be in place to pick up alerts of vehicles that have run out of credit, adding that drivers would still have the option of utilising the cash-based system, which is without the RFID tag.
“All the safety mechanisms are in place to ensure that this system works the way it is intended (that they work),” he assured.
In implementing the system, charge companies will be given priority, after which applications will be made available for other persons who want to be a part of the system.

Top cop meeting
Meanwhile, the Guyana Police Force has said that, in an effort to reduce the traffic chaos and confusion at the Demerara Harbour Bridge, Police Commissioner (ag) Clifton Hicken on Thursday morning met with Traffic Chief Ramesh Ashram and the DHBC management to reassess the traffic strategy that was put in place to alleviate the traffic woes at the bridge during the peak hours.
Hicken has said he is pleased to point out that there was a relatively smooth flow of traffic on both the eastern and western ends of the bridge during the peak hours on Thursday morning, and there was no visible sign of the usual traffic congestion.
This, he said, is an indication that the current strategy is working in terms of opening two lanes of traffic (double-lane) going east – (West Bank to East Bank across the bridge) from 6:00am to 7:00am. A second opening for two-lane traffic will depend on the traffic situation on both sides of the bridge.

More traffic ranks on the road
And as part of the bigger traffic strategy, Traffic Chief Ashram said, more traffic ranks will be visible at specific points along the road, to assess the traffic situation; and in the event of a build-up or congestion, a decision will be taken to open up an extra lane to ease the traffic flow.
Also, more traffic cones will be placed at strategic points on the road to aid in the free flow of traffic.
“The new arrangement entails having more ranks on the ground, to constantly monitor the traffic situation and any buildup of the traffic on either side. That information will be passed upwards, and can trigger a double-lane…the idea is to move the traffic and not get it stagnated on either side of the bridge,” the Traffic Chief is quoted as saying in a release from the GPF.

New automated tolling system
Meanwhile, DHB General Manager Watson has disclosed that traffic congestion at the bridge would also be eased with the rolling out of the DHBC multi-million-dollar automated tolling system to commuters today.
Watson has said commuters need only to pay their toll via a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag which would be placed on the front of their vehicles and on their mobile phones.
According to him, bridge commuters would be registered to a database, and they would need to have funds in their mobile money account. The magnetic RFID tag would be placed on the vehicle, and when that vehicle approaches the toll station on the eastern end of the bridge, the system’s sensors would identify the commuters’ vehicle using the tag and the toll would be deducted automatically.
He noted that, with the system, different tags would be created for different vehicles, whether cars, trucks or vans.