Works minister says Touch ‘n Go on highway tolls to end by 2025, SmartTAG to follow

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Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof says Putrajaya is planning to retire the use of Touch ‘n Go cards for highway toll payments in three more years, and phasing out the Smart Tag lane. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof says Putrajaya is planning to retire the use of Touch ‘n Go cards for highway toll payments in three more years, and phasing out the Smart Tag lane. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 ― Putrajaya is planning to retire the use of Touch ‘n Go cards for highway toll payments in three more years, and phasing out the SmartTAG lane, which also uses the same cards soon after.

Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof told news portal Free Malaysia Today that the government has received many complaints about Touch n’ Go’s advance payment.

As such, he said the government is keen to open up the system to enable motorists to pay tolls with their choice of digital providers.

For this purpose, he said highway concessionaires have been told to prepare for the implementation of the multi-lane free flow (MLFF) system by 2025.

“Soon, it will be up to the public to use any digital mode of payment ― whether you want to use Touch ‘n Go e-wallet or debit or credit card or Visa or Mastercard or any kind of [electronic] payment system as long as there’s a link available on a [particular] highway,” the minister told the news portal in an interview published today.

He added that motorists will only need one Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for that purpose.

The MLFF is a road system that automatically detects vehicles passing through its gantry that is equipped with automated number plate recognition (ANPR), and deducts payment from the registered motorists’ digital wallets using RFID technology for faster, smoother travel.

It is estimated that there are more than 20 million Touch ‘n Go cards in circulation currently. According to FMT, more than 90 per cent of toll payments on the 31 highways in the country are made using Touch ‘n Go.

Fadillah said the Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) is trying to make it more convenient for motorists to pay the required tolls.

“We have been listening to the people's demand to open more [online payments] and we are aware that people have been complaining that they have to pay in advance for Touch ‘n Go whether they are using [the highway] or not.

“We have to balance all these,” he was quoted as saying.

But Fadillah also told the news portal that migration to the new system will depend on the RFID penetration rate and how fast highway concessionaires can link up with additional online payment providers.

“If we feel there will be some delay by some highway concessionaires, we may consider a private investment model or private finance initiatives to take over [the MLFF system].

“The private investment model is for an open system. As you can see there are many highways in the country and all the systems need to be integrated. If we look at Singapore and Taiwan, they have single authority control [over the system],” he was quoted as saying.

Fadillah said the MLFF system is a key factor in the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) blueprint for future highway networks.

He added that the ANPR is being tested in a pilot project at the Kajang-Seremban Highway (Lekas).

“We are also looking at a proposal for a public-private partnership or PFI, subject to further discussion with the Lekas concessionaire and another pilot project at Besraya Highway soon,” said Fadillah.

The 28.3km long Besraya connects Serdang and Ampang in Selangor and is considered a major urban artery in the Klang Valley.

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