For folks who are in the midst of planning to balik kampung or are already prepared for the journey, good luck, because I'm sure by now you would have caught up with the latest news on traffic congestions happening in most major highways. Your four hours drive will inevitably turn into a tiring six hour trip. So what exactly is the cause of traffic build up?
We can sit here coming up with numerous theories that it's the festive season and everyone wants to go back for family gatherings or it's all the unecessary accidents happening, but I'm here to tell you that maybe, just maybe it is the toll. Yes, it could be as simple as that.
Highways are built to increase the country's mobility, but somehow our road system have failed to do that, especially when in periods of heavy traffic volume. It is apparent when highway operators told press like The Malaysian Insider and Berita Harian that the toll forms a bottleneck for the flow of traffic as vehicles would have to slow down as they head towards the toll. See what I mean?
Although toll operators are constantly advising drivers to purchase SmartTAGs the main problem still remains, the toll booths on the cash lanes are still there. It may not require a toll operator and even though we are told that it's "automatic" we still have to stop and wait for the machine to read our device and then the barriers will go up to let us pass, do you know how much time you have wasted? And it gets worse if your SmarTAG device fails?
Remember that time when you were rushing and forgotten that your SmartTAG needs a new battery or maybe your card ran out of money? Cars are jammed up behind you in that SmartTAG lane and are cursing the daylight away while you wait embarrassingly to pay RM2.50 to the toll collector who ran from her post to your car to collect it from you and then open up the barriers for you. Feels like a mini disaster happening doesn't it?
Now I'm not a Singaporean, but I do admit that they got it right with their open road tolling system. Drivers can just drive through the toll booth without stopping so your journey isn't disrupted. Our road technology system is old and obsolete by the standards of what is easily available in the rest of the world. Highway operators and the road technology services provider should work together and invest for a solution to ease our traffic woes and highway jams, it's time for a change.