Paying toll fees on the TRAC N4 Route has just gotten easier and more convenient with the introduction of Express Lanes at the Nkomazi Plaza near Mbombela.
Express Lanes were introduced to the South African section of the route in 2019, at the Diamond Hill Plaza. Road users took to them so well that Trans African Concessions decided to establish this convenient toll payment method at all of its mainline plazas in South Africa, with the roll-out campaign starting at the Nkomazi Plaza.
Express Lanes are electronic, tag-only lanes, which road users go through while travelling at a maximum speed of 40 km/h. They are different from Tag-Only lanes, in which road users must come to an almost complete stop to activate their tag.
Express Lanes also enable electronic tag users to use a dedicated lane, completely separate from the normal toll plaza lanes, which eliminates the occurrence of tag holders having to reverse in tag-only lanes when another road user erroneously attempts to drive through one.
Express lanes are situated on the extreme left of the plaza (in each direction) and work in three phases, namely:
- 1 – First boom: Found as you enter the Express Lane. The signage for this boom either shows ‘Tag Only’ (when the lane is open) or a red cross (when the lane is closed).
- 2 – Reading zone: This is the area where the tag is read, and road users must drive below 40km/h. It functions as a ‘pre-clearing’ zone to determine if the vehicle has a tag, if the tag is functional and if it has sufficient funds.
- 3 – Proceed point (left boom) and ejection point (right boom).
If the automatic, electronic tag has funds and is in working order, the road user will see two green arrows and the word ‘proceed’. The boom on the left of the Express Lane will open and, once through the boom, the road user will join the main road after the plaza. If there is no tag in the vehicle, the electronic tag is faulty or the funds are depleted, the road user will see two red arrows and the word ‘“Eject’. The boom on the right will open, and the road user will be directed back to the manual plaza booths to pay via an alternative payment method.
Although the Express Lanes enable road users to pay their toll fee while in motion, everyone using these lanes is advised to keep a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of them, while in the express lane. There are various reasons for this, including that if a tag is rejected while in the lane, being too close to the vehicle ahead may result in the driver’s inability to use the exit lane on time. This will cause traffic congestion in the lane.