So big news that applies to pretty much any Malaysian behind a wheel – the Finance Ministry is buying over the toll concessionaires for four highways: Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP), Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat (SPRINT), Lebuhraya Shah Alam (KESAS) and SMART Tunnel (SMART) at RM6.2 billion to be paid for in government bonds.
Ok ok whatever… but the part that’s probably more interesting to motorists is that the entire TOLL system is going to change! Part of the government’s strategy to settle the debt is to get revenue from a congestion charge, which the ministry plans to replace the current toll system with. But don’t worry, the most EXPENSIVE charge is the same as what we’re currently paying – so here’s out it works. So, if you were to pay the congestion charge at, say a toll plaza on LDP, the charge would be RM2.10 during peak hours, zero during off-peak hours, or RM1.47 outside peak hours. What are the peak hours? :
- peak hours (when congestion is the highest) will be the current toll rate (e.g. RM2.10 on LDP)
- off-peak hours (no congestion) will be free (as in no need to pay lah)
- outside peak hours (neither peak nor off-peak) will be 70% of the full congestion charge (e.g. RM1.47 on LDP).
Then, you’d wonder when the peak hours are. Well, we came across an article (and another) saying that the peak hours are 6.30am-9.00am and 4.30pm-7.30pm, but tbh it’s not explicitly stated if the govt said this or not.
But a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office in February revealed that the off-peak hours are between 11.00pm and 5.00am, which of course is great news for drunkards, LGBT and those ‘looking for customer’!
But how accurate are these peak hour assumptions? Rather than interview Malaysians who will ALWAYS say it’s jam when they’re late for appointments, we decided to use Waze, which has an ETA estimator to check the most packed 2.5 hours in the mornings and the most packed 3 hours in the evenings on each highway from different toll plazas.
FYI, Waze gets its info from motorists driving around with the Waze app open on their phones (don’t even have to type or say anything to it, but there’s an option to do that after you’re done driving). Whatever info Waze collects while you drive is used to make estimations and put together the traffic info other users can refer to.
Routes used: From the Penchala and Puchong Barat tolls. Their traffic conditions were pretty similar, so we clumped them together.
Weekday morning peaks: 7.15am-9.45am
Weekday evening peaks: 4.30pm-7.30pm
While motorists driving through these tolls during the peaks from Mondays to Thursdays will have to be reasonably patient, the peaks on Fridays are a little different. Fridays has less severe traffic in the morning and really severe traffic in the evening.
Weekends tho have different traffic jam patterns. They’re not severe but when there’s a bit of traffic, they go on for a bit longer than weekdays.
Routes used: From the Damansara and Bukit Kiara tolls.
Weekday morning peaks: 7.15am-9.45am
Weekday evening peaks (Bukit Kiara toll): 4.15pm-7.15pm (Fridays’ evening peaks are also more severe at this toll)
The weekend traffic patterns, weekday morning peaks at both tolls and weekday evening peaks at Bukit Kiara toll are similar to LDP’s, but the Damansara toll has no weekday evening peak.
In addition, each toll has a Friday afternoon hump: 2.45pm-3.00pm at Damansara toll and 12.30pm-1.15pm at Bukit Kiara toll.
Routes used: From the Kemuning and Sunway tolls
Weekday morning peaks: 6.45am-9.15am
Weekday evening peaks: 4.45pm-7.45pm
Weekends: Similar to other highways.
The peak hours are similar to the LDP and SPRINT, but more severe.
4. Smart Tunnel
Route used: From the Sungai Besi toll
Weekday morning peaks: 7.15-9.45am
Weekday evening peaks: no evening peaks, but Friday has a small evening peak (4.45-7.45pm)
Weekends: 1.00-4.00pm (mid-day peak), different than the other 3 highways.
So how close are the quoted peak hours to Waze’s estimates?
Just to remind you of the quoted peak hours:
- Morning: 6.30am-9.00am
- Evening: 4.30pm-7.30pm
And what we got from Waze:
- Morning: 6.45am-9.15am, 7.00am-9.30am, 7.15am-9.45am, 7.30am-10.00am, 7.45am-10.15am.
- Evening: 4.15pm-7.15pm, 4.30pm-7.30pm, 4.45pm-7.45pm, 5.00pm-8.00pm and through some tolls, no evening peaks.
Looks like the quoted morning peak hours are a little earlier than the Waze estimates for morning peak hours (but still very close) while the quoted evening peak hours are within the set of Waze estimates for evening peak hours. So, when would be the best times to travel if you wanna avoid getting stuck in the
sticky strawberry jam?
If you’re not nocturnal like an owl (hoot would probably get free toll charges if it drives), you could try driving before 6.45am or after 10.15am in the mornings and before 4.15pm or after 8.00pm in the evenings (unless you’re passing through the Damansara or Sungai Besi toll).
During those times, you’d have to pay:
- LDP: RM1.47 for all tolls
- SPRINT: RM1.40 for Damansara, RM1.75 for Pantai, and RM2.10 for Bukit Kiara
- KESAS: RM1.40 for all tolls
- Smart Tunnel: RM2.10
At least for now… There’s a theory that the congestion charge might spread out the traffic flow from peak hours to non-peak hours (maybe as a result of some peeps following our suggestion to drive outside peak hours *ahem*), which means that there are two outcomes to this charge
- You pay less at certain hours when traffic is bad
- You pay the same amount at peak hours, but traffic will be less
Looks like a win-win situation to us 😉
Co-written by Dhanyaa and Chak