The radio-frequency identification (RFID) lanes at the North South Expressway have come under fire for being nothing more than a glorified Touch ‘n Go system.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) chief executive officer T. Saravanan said this following traffic snarls on the North-South Expressway due to faulty RFID tags and the removal of Smart Tag lanes to incorporate the new system.
“So far it’s just a glorified Touch ‘n Go system because it is not gateless or fully automated like the systems in Australia and Portugal.
“Also the traffic jams we have seen since Monday means that the system is unable to perform better than Smart Tag or Touch ‘n Go. And this proves to the public that their doubts and hesitations were not wrong.
“They haven’t even sorted out glitches in the system, so how are they going to prove to the consumers that paying RM35 and getting the system fitted in their vehicles is for their benefit?”
Saravanan said people were hesitant to make the switch because Smart Tag and Touch ‘n Go were convenient.
“We can change it from one car to another, unlike RFID. But with RFID, when there is an issue, drivers have to reverse in chock-a-block traffic because there is no one in the booths and that is extremely unsafe and stressful.”
He said while there was an announcement that attendants would be placed in the RFID lanes to address this issue, Saravanan said it was counter-
productive as huge amounts were spent to automate the system that was now being supported on crutches.
Even before PLUS Malaysia Bhd made the announcement that RFID lanes would be available on a major part of its highways, he said, people were already up in arms.
Saravanan said they received at least 15 complaints a week on matters related to refunds and faulty tags before 2022.
“This has definitely gone up, judging from the snarls on the highway,” he said, adding that he would provide details on this later.
He also said the government should intervene by speaking to PLUS to put off the removal of Smart Tag or Touch ‘n Go lanes until the operator sorted out this issue.
Saravanan said that the operator should offer the RM35 fitting service for free, since the system was under a Touch ‘n Go monopoly and it was not foolproof.
“They are also being forced (to use RFID) with PLUS phasing out the Touch ‘n Go systems, so it should be for free.”
This system is in line with the Works Ministry’s Intelligent Transport System Blue Print, which included the Multi-Lane Free Flow (MLFF).
Traffic at RFID lanes at the Sungai Besi toll plaza here yesterday morning was reported to be smooth. A number of PLUS employees were seen assisting motorists on site.
A check by the New Straits Times Press saw that traffic was smooth from the Bangi toll plaza, Selangor, towards Sungai Besi toll plaza at 8am.
At Bangi toll plaza, four lanes comprising three dedicated for Touch ‘n Go users and one RFID on both directions showed smooth movement of motorists.
At Sungai Besi toll plaza heading to the city centre, the four lanes both ways dedicated to Smart Tag and RFID users (two each) appeared to be busier than usual, with traffic moving moving bumper-to-bumper for one kilometre after the plaza.
There are 12 lanes at the plaza, including nine for Touch ‘n Go.