International Lifestyle

Does Malaysia have the worst Toll system? We compare some countries

Oh noooo toll rates are going UP! Effective Thursday, 15 October, 18 major highways except PLUS will charge between 20 sen to RM4.70 higher than their original rates. For the full list of prices, click here.

Don’t take it as an unexpected shock though… the Government had confirmed it in June, though at the time, the rates were not decided yet. In fact the plan was to hike the price in 2011, but that got shelved, so the Government compensated toll operators about RM400 mil. After it didn’t go through again last year, they compensated RM558.69 mil. Why need to keep compensating? The toll operators haven’t break even meh?!

Needless to say, people are pissed with the increase. Including Wanita UMNO’s Anina Saadudin who became femes after her Najib kencing video, Rafizi RamliTony Pua and of course Malaysians who’ve just HAD it! Even Najib’s BFF, Kipidap also complain!

KIPIDAP-toll-touchngo-cilisos

“The people will become more pressured by other burdens. Do not burden them anymore as there is no reason to raise the toll prices. Don’t let the rakyat retaliate due to toll prices. The government should intervene in this matter as the toll prices cannot be raised at its whims and fancies. Malaysia should not have to impose the toll system anymore, they should do away with it,” – Abdul Rani Kulup aka Kipidap, Rakyat Post

So how does Malaysia’s toll system compare to other countries? We looked at Brazil, India, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, the UK, and the US – ordered from LEAST similar to MOST similar…

 

Austria

Just kidding! We’re not gonna compare Austria’s, but we had to put this in coz the toll system there is called Go-Maut. We hope we never see this along the Karak Highway!

austria go-maut toll system Image from Wikipedia

How about no?! From Wiki

Ok, now let’s start on the REAL list.

 

Singapore – Why so near but so far ahead?

Singapore ERP gantry toll. Image from Land Transport Authority

No need to queue! Image from Singapore Land Transport Authority

YAY our favourite neighbour! Singapore’s toll is unique. In 1975, they introduced the world’s first congestion pricing, meaning harga naik during peak hours. Also, weekdays and weekends prices aren’t the same. Drivers are not charged based on how many km they’ve travelled. This totally makes sense coz it eases traffic which everyone hates. After that, other cities also copy them like London, Stockholm, Milan, and San Diego (California).

This is where Malaysia and Singapore tolls differ HUGELY. Singapore’s system is called Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) and they don’t have toll booths, they have these things called gantries. So when you drive under it, it sorta works like our Smart Tag and it deducts cash from drivers’ cashcard, but without the kancheongness of the gantry…

CILISOS-MEME-SMARTTAG

Also, ALL CARS entering ERP have the transponder. And the thing carries SGD50 credit, and auto-debits when it runs out! Whoaaaaahhhhh… This started March this year. For those who use prepaid card, if their card runs out, they will get a fine. No ERP unit, the camera will capture your numberplate and kasi you fine also. Super efficient.

Then Malaysian or foreign cars how? When they enter the causeway border, they pay a flat fee for the number of days (weekends free!) OR they can also rent the transponder (called an IU), then get charged like normal kiasu Singaporeans.

Check out this chart to see how it works:

singapore ERP congestion charge rate Screenshot from MyTransport.sg.

5 minutes makes SO MUCH difference! Screenshot from MyTransport.sg

 

The UK – OMG they get discount for not using CASH!? NO WAYYYyy

Ya is called TAG like ours, except they didn't need to call it SMART. Image via Itsinternational.com

Ya is called TAG like ours, except they didn’t need to call it SMART. Image via Itsinternational.com

Turns out, tolls have existed in the UK since the 17th century! Today, London uses the same system as Singapore which is congestion charges. Except it’s more complex since prices are different Mon-Fri, weekends and at night (11pm-6am), AND they use old-fashioned kancheong gantry like ours.

Anyways, Tag is an electronic pre-payment system. Sama macam our SmartTag and Singapore’s ERP. But one key difference in the UK – for using pre-pay over cash, users get 5% discount, Touch n’ Go users kena charge pulak extra 2-2.5% for using the system.

 

 

Spain – Just getting started

Toll highway in Spain. Image from infrapppworld.com.

Tolls in Spain have manual and auto lanes. Image from infrapppworld.com

One generation ago, before Spain joined the European Union, they had sucky roads. They said it. Not us.

The country is new to the idea of proper highways, much less toll charges. Anyhoo, there are 2 types of roads – Autopistas (must pay toll) and Autovias (free). On the whole, tolls cover about 20% of the road network. That’s very LITTLE. Compared to the rest of Europe, a lot of the stretches are toll-free.

Unlike Singapore, rates don’t change throughout different hours of the day. Yep, that means in Spain they pay by distance like Malaysia. In fact, they’ve got a pretty set formula here where drivers pay around EUR9-10 each 100km. But best of all, Spain’s government purposely created a free alternative to toll roads, although some of them are longer distance, they’re just as well maintain. Jeez lah, why can’t we be like that too?

 

 

India – They abolish some tolls adi. Just like… us?

india toll road. Image from thehindubusinessline.com.

Image from thehindubusinessline.com

Also charges by distance. Again, no 2 concessions charge the same price based on agreement with government. Generally, India tolls follow an OPEN system – the rate is based on the length of a stretch under 1 project, usually 60km. This is interesting because the Indian government fixed the spacing between 2 toll plazas to be 60km. So the only constant here is 60km, but there are different prices lah.

Speaking of open system, Malaysia practices both OPEN and CLOSED. An open system charges a fixed price no matter which point they exit the highway. Closed system is when drivers masuk from Point A > collect a ticket > exit at Point B > return ticket and pay based on distance from A-B.

But you know what? India has abolished 62 tolls (cover cost adi). Malaysia abolished…only 3 (including 1 in Sarawak).

 

 

The US – So many different systermss

4 toll systems means 4 transponders!? - Image via 9thgencivic.com

4 toll systems means 4 transponders!? – Image via 9thgencivic.com

As of 2006, only 26 states in the US charge toll. 21 states never had tolls and 2 states had toll roads in the past, but have since abolished them. But drivers can kiss these free times goodbye because the US might implement tolls widely soon. Opposite of India. It seems their gas tax revenue is dwindling, so they’re collecting toll as a new source of revenue.

We don’t need to mention how different each state in the US can be, but even within the SAME state, toll prices can have such a big gap. In Alabama, the Joe Mallisham Parkway charges USD1.50 for 7.7km stretch. Then the Emerald Mountain Expressway (still Alabama) charges USD1.50 for a 1.9km stretch. Wuuut…

On top of that, they have so many electronic systems. Like ours Touch n’ Go right? They use FasTrak in California, E-ZPass in Delaware, Sun Pass, Peach Pass, or NC Quick in Florida, etc. Don’t wanna get 4 different transponders? Pay cash lor.

 

Brazil – Most expensive and longest

Brazil toll roads Image from Wikipedia

Rodovia dos Imigrantes under Sao Paulo state. Image from Wikipedia

The country of football has the 4th LONGEST tolling system in da world and with it, some of the most EXPENSIVE toll rates. In Brazil, they charge by distance. The national average is BRL9.04 (RM10.08) per 100km, but the most expensive states are Rio de Janeiro BRL12.93 (RM14.42) and Sao Paulo BRL12.76 (RM14.23) per 100 km. So yeah, charges can still vary from state to state. Pretty easy to understand right?

Similarly, Malaysia charges by distance and the prices are agreed upon by each concessions and the government. Over here, the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) is in charge of road infrastructure. We couldn’t find any official signed MOUs or whatever revealing RM per km. But we know they don’t all charge the same prices per km. However we found a calculator on their site, so we calculated ourselves.

  • SDE Highway | Cahaya Baru-Senai (50.853km) = RM9.20 for Kelas 1 cars. Therefore 100km = RM18
  • PLUS Highway | Alor Setar-Hutan Kampong (10.6km) = RM1.40 for Kelas 1 cars. Therefore 100km = RM13
  • LPT Highway | Chenor-Karak (64.23km) = RM7.70 for Kelas 1 cars. Therefore 100km = RM12

 

 Ya, so it’s quite similar lor.

In conclusion…yes. Our toll system sucks.

toll hike protest LDP. Image from The Malaysian Insider

Image from The Malaysian Insider

“My daily toll cost will now hit RM15 per day. That is just me. When it is added to the toll cost
incurred by my  wife, we will now have to spend around RM400 monthly for toll alone,” – Razak, protest participant.

Let’s see. We’re more old fashioned than Singapore, we pay EXTRA to go cashless, AND our system is comparable to world’s most expensive toll. We’d say, it’s fair to agree that our Toll system sucks. To express their feelings, hundreds gathered in protest at the LDP, Guthrie, DUKE, LKSA and Silk Highways.

Yet, do we understand the JUSTIFICATION for having tolls? As we’ve seen in other countries, they say it’s to ease traffic, discourage certain classes of vehicles (like more polluting ones), encourage public transport, to fund road infrastructure, reduce noise or road accidents, etc. But in the end, who collects the money? Still the governments right?

In Malaysia, the justification is supposedly to ‘enable the government to provide more assistance and facilities for the people in the future’. Chup, Malaysia has the 3rd highest car ownership in the world, and you mean to tell us they haven’t earned enough from tolls to cover the cost yet!?

 

How road tolling is UNFAIR to the rakyat

angry man pay toll booth Image from Astro Awani

Image from Astro Awani

Everyone can agree that roads are a basic infrastructure. And that’s what governments are supposed to provide – like street lights, or schools. So it should be the government’s job to handle road works

“Most countries have no toll roads. Where there are toll roads the tolled network typically comprises less than 5 percent of the road network.” – World Bank

At the same time, the government has the right to privatise road works to private concessionaires (who then charge toll to earn back their money). BUTTT these concessionaires are government-owned (ironically), or at least government controls more than 50% of equity (like PLUS). Do you see what they did there?

i aint going back to daycare

Think of it in terms of a dad (gomen) and kid (rakyat). The dad is supposed to provide for the kid right? Instead he hands the kid over to babysitters (private concessionaires) and the poor kid pays for his own babysitter. Aiyo.

As for whether or not these concessions earned enough toll revenue to cover they money they spent… PLUS got a 50-year contract (until 2038). The cost to build the North-South Expressway was RM6 billion. As of Dec 2010, PLUS had already earned more than RM24 billion! We dunno whether other concessions break even adi, but Prolintas (also partly owned by government) Group Chief Executive Zainudin Kadir explained on average, highway companies takes 10-15 years to break even. Prolintas itself planned to take less than 10 years.

To be fair, these companies don’t just stop at building. They still need to maintain the roads and facilities. But the amount of money going into ‘maintenance’ is way less than the money they’re getting, and even then, there are those who spot strange discrepancies.

“However, the cost of this maintenance has often been exaggerated. For instance, the maintenance cost of the North South Expressway amounts to RM200 million, while that of the LDP is RM10 million per annum.” – Tony Pua, July 2009 to The Nut Graph 

Pity la Puchong people who kena toll the most. That area really like a toll minefield. Generally, it’s all the tolls in the Klang Valley area that kena, but Selangor MB Azmin Ali told announced that the state was fully against the federal government’s decision to increase toll. Selangor MB, Azmin said why not use GST revenue to pay the highway concessionaires…which is ALSO PAID by the rakyat anyway!

Between GST, a dropping currency, and the recent toll hikes… despite RM200 million maintenance budgets… Malaysians are unfortunately looking at some really rough roads head 🙁

 

NAH, BACA:
Being gay: 8 things I learnt after leaving Malaysia for New York

1 Comment

  1. Simon Chen

    22/10/2015 at 8:08 pm

    Nail it, ugaizz!

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