PLUS closes Smart Tag lanes in the north to make way for RFID

Jerrica · Jul 24, 2020 11:54 AM

Image credit: MalaysiaKini

PLUS Highways recently announced that they have closed all Smart Tag lanes at 9 tolls in the north to make way for RFID lanes. The latest move saw PLUS getting accused of forcing its highway users to make the transition to RFID technology and side-lining Smart Tag users.

In addition to closing all Smart Tag lanes, PLUS is also offering free 1,500 RFID fitments for those who are interested to move on to RFID usage. This only further roused road users of their accusations.

RFID stands for Radio-Frequency Identification, a technology that uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags that are attached to objects. The new technology is PLUS’ latest initiative officially launched at the start of this year.

Test runs of the RFID technology started in 2018, at that time RFID fitments were offered for free to all road users who were interested to try the new technology out. Since early this year, RFID fitments are no longer free and those who want to try out RFID would have to fork out RM 35.

Accusations that PLUS is forcing road users in Kedah and Penang to use RFID started when a post was uploaded on a Sungai Petani Facebook page.

Smart Tag is one of the most popular payment methods at tolls in Malaysia for close to 20 years. Many consider Smart Tag as the more convenient method compared to Touch N Go.

Removing Smart Tag lanes entirely will only cause more inconvenience as many still don’t see the need to make the jump to try out RFID yet since their Smart Tag devices will give them the same convenience that RFID tags have to offer.

Furthermore, owners of car models that were fitted with built-in Smart Tag devices like the Perodua Myvi and Haval models will have even less reason to switch to RFID. Even Toyota offers built-in Smart Tag devices as an additional accessory.

There are other ways to encourage the use of RFID in Malaysia. But removing Smart Tag lanes to make way for RFID lanes is seen as a deliberate act to inconvenience road users to force them to make the switch to RFID.

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Instead of instantly removing Smart Tag lanes, PLUS should have started a survey to find out why many users still prefer Smart Tags to come up with more initiatives to encourage the change.

As of now, the biggest reason many has yet to make the switch to RFID because of its unreliable nature. Problems like the scanner not being able to detect the tag or charging a driver twice in one crossing are common issues. 

We hope that PLUS authorities will understand the road user’s point of view and rethink their decision as this will only bring about more inconvenience rather than convenience.

UPDATE: Thanks to FB user Damian Lim for the heads up. Apparently this is not just happening in the north side of Peninsular but in Port Dickson Smart Tag lane has also been removed.