TRAFFIC at the Penang Bridge toll plaza was smooth on the first day of the implementation of the cashless transaction system.
A check by The Star showed that there was no congestion leading to the toll plaza area just before motorists cross over to Penang island.
The sales office at the bridge toll plaza was also not crowded, with customers reported to be waiting for only about half an hour for their turn to buy the PLUSMiles and Touch N’ Go cards.
Some motorists who were caught unawares that the new system was implemented yesterday, had to buy their card at the toll booth, as there was no way for them to make a turn back to the sales office at the toll plaza.
Five toll plazas in Penang and Kedah including the Penang Bridge have gone fully electronic for its toll collection system using PLUSMiles and Touch ‘N Go cards.
The other toll plazas are the Kubang Semang toll plaza in Penang, while in Kedah are the Lunas, Jitra and Bukit Kayu Hitam toll plazas.
These toll plazas will only accept the PLUSMiles and Touch N’ Go cards, or the SmartTAG device.
Motorists using the bridge will enjoy a special RM5.60 rate with Touch N’ Go cards bought at the Penang Bridge office after showing proof of a Penang address in the MyKad. Others have to pay RM7.
For bikers, it is RM1.10 for Penangites and RM1.40 for those from other states.
Road users are expected to benefit from the new system in the long term.
PLUS Malaysia Berhad chief operating officer Mohammad Fuad Khusairi said the objective of implementing the cashless transaction system was to reduce traffic congestion.
“Currently, we have an average of about 82,000 transactions at the Penang Bridge toll plaza every day.
“On a fair weather day, we expect 30% to 50% smoother traffic flow with the new electronic system compared to the old system of cash counters.
“The SmartTag can handle more than twice the traffic than cash transactions within the same period of time.
“Hopefully, by 2017 we will implement the electronic cashless systems throughout the country,” he said in a press conference after launching the system at the Penang Bridge toll plaza at noon yesterday.
Businessman Saw Kam Sing, 52, who was spotted buying a PLUSMiles card at the sales office at the toll plaza in Prai yesterday, said the new system would help him save some money.
With the card bought at the sales office, he only needs to pay RM5.60 instead of RM7 when using the bridge.
“Also, I can now top up several hundred ringgit at one time and continue swiping the card each time I cross any of the five tolls.
“It’s so convenient and saves a lot of time as I don’t have to queue up to pay cash,” he said.
Farmer Cheoh Kheng Jac, 25, was confident that the new system would ease traffic flow.
“I believe traffic congestion will improve with the new cashless system.
“There will be less time wasted in returning loose change,” he said.
Sales executive Jess Png, 28, from Butterworth, said there would no longer be long queues due to cars switching lanes from now on.
“Hopefully, when all are using the card or the SmartTag device, the traffic flow will be more consistent and reduce queuing time,” she said.