The thing about Monopoly is that you stick with it whether you like it or not. Most of the time, there are no complaints, but when you have a proprietary format involving payments for essential services and need to store that payment in advance, complaints usually arise.
This is the case with Touch ‘n Go. While it undoubtedly has flat-rate payments for public transport and tolls (and, for the most part, private parking), the system, especially in its physical card form, relies on setting monetary amounts before use.
Not everyone likes this, especially those who pay road tolls, thinking they’d rather keep their money to themselves and only shell out when they have to use it. The lack of a pay-as-you-go (or use) alternative (or for that matter, any alternative since cash payments were abolished) means having someone else keep your money for you to use at some point in the future.
This will change with the implementation of the Multi-Lane Free-Flow (MLFF) tolling system, which may be introduced ahead of its planned deployment in 2025. An accessible toll system – utilizing gantry structures with no designated kiosks or lanes – would also end Touch ‘n Go (TnG)’s monopoly on toll payment upon arrival.
With MLFF, users will have the freedom to choose how they want to pay for tolls, allowing pay-as-you-go. Former works minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof had said that the public is free to use any digital payment method, including credit cards or any type of (electronic) payment system, as long as there is an available link on a particular highway.
Despite the change in government, multi-modal toll payment methods are still very likely and a pilot project to test these payment methods will be launched in the future. Current Works Minister Datuk Seri Alexandra Nantaringji said this at the launch of the TNB Electron DC charging network at Ayer Keroh R&R yesterday.
Negotiations on an open payment system between the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Finance and the relevant franchisees are intensifying, and a pilot project will be launched as soon as possible to make payments through various digital payment providers, he said.
“We will finish it as soon as possible (because) we have to test the system first to see if it can be used nationwide. Discussions have also been held with the Ministry of Finance, because it will involve financial issues, and after all parties are satisfied with the system, decisions will be made,” he said.
No timetable for the pilot project or the form of digital payments was disclosed. In any case, do you think the plan to introduce alternative digital payment options for fares should be extended to public transport? Share your thoughts with us.