RFID at toll plazas are still not perfect and still have issues

RFID at toll plazas are still not perfect and still have issues

KUALA LUMPUR: The recent announcement to make RFID available at all Toll Plazas and the full removal of the Touch & Go and also SmartTag system has created a flurry of negative comments on Malaysian social media.

With thousands of Malaysians ‘forced’ to use toll plazas on a daily basis for work and personal commuting, the arrival of RFID tags and lanes was a good move, but not a perfect one from the beginning. Like any system, there were teething issues.

Since its launch in April 2020 at PLUS highway toll plazas, there has been a fast take-up of RFID users, especially in Klang Valley where there are dozens of tolled highways and most new townships are connected by these highways.

Some drivers need to use 2 to 4 different highways and toll plazas just to commute to work every day. This means having a seamless toll entry and exit is vital for them.

Now, on the flip-side, there are also plenty of other drivers who hardly ever use tolled highways, like us. They are just occasional toll highway users, primarily when going on an inter-state holiday or drive. These are the people who use the SmartTag and Touch & Go card system, and are very happy to continue doing so as they do not mind waiting a minute or more to exit a toll plaza.

Now, with the intended phasing out of the SmartTag and Touch & Go card system by the end of 2023, you will have many occasional toll highway users unable to use the highways immediately because there is little motivation to get an RFID tag.

Why? Well, these drivers will not rush out and install an RFID tag on their cars just to be used once or twice a year. Or even more worrying, car owners and drivers like us will start having issues as we have more than two cars in our garage and we need to assign a car with an RFID tag just for interstate driving.

It should be noted that Touch & Go was on track to do this way back in August 2018 when they announced that the SmartTag will cease sales. This prompted its supplier, Lokatag to start their own online sales as there will still be many Malaysians needing the system and even Perodua was selling cars equipped with a built-in to the dashboard Lokatag toll reader.

The next issue with this comes from the many car-sharing companies that are operational in Malaysia. Short-term car rental companies like GoCar, Socar, FLUX and others are here and their business is growing. How will their users/drivers use RFID toll plazas?

Then you have Agility Financing from Mercedes-Benz where when a customer's agreement comes to an end, they have the option to settle, extend or return their Mercedes-Benz for a new model. So what happens to the RFID tag on the car when they return their Benz? They cannot remove it and re-install it on their new Mercedes?

Last and not to be forgotten are the senior drivers. They took years to understand the prepaid Touch & Go system and most have a card with some money in it or they can easily top-up the money when needed.

With RFID, they all will want a refund on their existing Touch & Go card, no matter how small the amount is and they will need to learn how to top-up and use the RFID system.

The confusion alone will cause traffic jams (just like in the above picture where an MPV is reversing from the RFID lane) and long lines at RFID lanes for years. So, the best is to increase the number of RFID lanes while reducing the SmartTag lanes over some years to allow a smoother transition.

Also read: Flood damaged cars repair cost in Malaysia

Daniel Fernandez

Daniel Fernandez

22 years as a motoring journalist starting with Asian Auto magazine as writer for one year and the following year editor for 10 years. 12 years as a online media owner, DSF.my 10 years on radio with very own auto news and reviews radio show starting with LITEFM for 7 years and the last three years with BFM.

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