Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Touch But Cannot Go


Look familiar?

Yeah, it's Malaysian highways, or you call it tollways in the States. There are no freeways in Malaysia, and no difference between highways and tollways in this Bulleh Land because all highways, or can I say any roads with more than 2 lanes in one direction are manned with such pirates, to collect toll fares from all ordinary road users like you and me, while we are also paying the so called "road tax" annually for our vehicle. So, it is certainly much much much cheaper to buy a red underwear and wear outside, if and only if you know how to fly like Superman...


If you are not Malaysian, please read on and let me "proudly" introduce you our innovative toll system.

Refer to the first photo above. The first 3 lanes from the left are cash and go lane. You pay cash, you go. There are pirates sitting in the booth to collect fares from you, and they will change for you if you do not have exact amount.

Then you can see there are 3 lanes with blue overhead board. These are Touch n Go lanes. The drivers must have purchased a prepaid card loaded with sufficient values to pay the toll before they enter these lanes. 4 simple steps, stop, wind down the window, touch on the sensor and go. Hence, the name "Touch n Go" card. For sure you "touch" but cannot "go" if you have insufficient values in the card.

And last at the right most, there are 3 lanes with yellow overhead board. These are Smart Tag lanes. The drivers buy a wireless device called Smart Tag (on left) and slot in the Touch n Go card to pass through the Smart Tag lane. The drivers do nothing but only slow down when passing the toll with the Smart Tag slotted with TnG card on the dashboard and hear the Smart Tag beeps twice, then press on the paddle and go. Smart huh? You are not smart but jackass if you have the Smart Tag but no Touch n Go card in it.

You may have a question, where do us, I mean Touch n Go and Smart Tag users top up the values in the card? If you are observant, you may notice the left most Touch n Go lane (the blue board) looks different from the other two...


It says "Tambah Nilai" & Touch n Go. "Tambah Nilai" means top up values, so drivers with insufficient fund in the card can drive through this lane to top up the values of the card.

"Wow, very convenience," you may respond. I must agree and admit the convenience I enjoy from this booth. It definitely affects all TnG and ST users if the booth is ceased from operation.

In Bulleh Land, typically what you don't want is what you get. All such top up booths were ceased from operations recently. Well, I should say partially ceased as the operating hour was shortened. I sent an email to inquire about it...


I received the reply 4 days ago...


In short, the operating hour was shortened from 9am to 4pm with the justification to "minimize lane congestion during peak hours".

Ok, I am human, I may not have the same logic like donkeys, to "minimize lane congestion during peak hours"?! Why not they operate the booth from 12am to 6am? That also "minimizes lane congestion during peak hours". Can't they understand majority of the users commute on the road during peak hours and hence majority of them including me need to top up the card value during peak hour, in particular when on the way home from work or vice versa? Why target the minority who travels outside of peak hours? Can't they anticipate the queue on cash lanes will be longer than usual because of TNG + ST users with insufficient fund? Can't they anticipate that the TnG and ST lanes will easily get hogged by silly users who have insufficient fund but still try their luck to pass through the lanes? This is for sure the shortcut or trick, you don't have to queue on the long cash lane but just pay the balance of the fare with cash to the standby pirate there, when the gate does not open for you due to insufficient fund in the card. I did once before when I needed toilet urgently, that saved me at least 15 minutes from queuing at the cash lane. It would not be inconvenience if all but not selective convenience stores like 7-11 and petrol stations are equipped with the top up facility (also with NO extra surcharge), but this isn't the case. Not only me, some have even sent complain to the media, here and here. So whose logic is more logical? Human or donkey? You judge.

But donkeys are not always stubborn, they do listen to command occasionally if not always. The complain was heard and the operating hour was revised...


Can you see the black tapes? It was used to change the operating hour to 4pm. Now, according to the board, it's from 7am to 7:30pm daily including holidays. I do not know if this is true, but it was 5 minutes to 6 in the evening just now when I passed the toll, the booth was still in operation.

We can never predict what's next, whether such revised operating hour is sustainable or the donkeys would again stubbornly back to their own logic. You'd know, this is Bulleh Land, ruled by a group of brains with similar logic.

Anyway, this table was also attached in the email. It may be useful for your reference...


Very clear table right, to tell you where the office located? Sigh. Just make sure you are at the right side/direction of the highways if you plan to stop over the customer service counter.