Works ministry ramping up talks with MoF to open up toll payment options, no more Touch 'n Go monopoly –

The thing about monopolies are, like it or not, you’re stuck with it. Most times, there are no gripes, but when you have a captive format involving the payment for essential services and having the need to store that payment in advance, then complaints usually come about.

Such is the case with Touch ‘n Go. While it has undoubtedly unified payment for public transportation and toll collection (and private parking, for the most), the system, most notably in its physical card form, relies on one placing a monetary amount ahead of use.

Not everyone is a fan of this, notably those who pay road tolls, with the idea that they’d rather keep the money to themselves and fork it out only when they have to use it. The lack of a pay-as-you-use (or go) alternative (or for that matter, any alternative since cash payment was abolished), has meant having someone else keeping your money for your use at some point in the future.

This is set to change with the implementation of a multi-lane free flow (MLFF) toll collection system, which could be introduced ahead of its planned deployment in 2025. The barrier-free tolling system – utilising a gantry structure without designated booths or lanes – is also set to end the monopoly of Touch ‘n Go (TnG) for toll payment when it arrives.

With MLFF, users will have the freedom to choose how they want to make their toll payment, allowing pay-as-you-use payments to be carried out. Previous works minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof had indicated that the public would be free to use any digital mode of payment, including credit cards or any kind of (electronic) payment system, as long as there was a link available on a particular highway.

While the government has changed, the multi-mode toll payment format remains very much on the cards, and a pilot project to trial these payment options is set to come about in the future. This was indicated by present works minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi during the launch of the TNB Electron DC charging network at Ayer Keroh R&R yesterday.

He said that talks on an open payment system between the works ministry and the ministry of finance as well as related concessionaires are being ramped up, and that a pilot project to enable payments through various digital payment providers would be conducted as soon as possible.

“We will do it as soon as possible (because) we have to test the system first to see if it can be used throughout the country. Discussions have also been made with the ministry of finance because it will involve financial implications, and after all parties are satisfied with the system, a decision will be made,” he said.

No timeline for the pilot project, or the forms of digital payment, were revealed. In any case, do you think the plan to introduce alternative digital payment options for toll collection should be expanded to public transport? Share your thoughts with us.

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