System down at RFID lanes on PLUS highway - will this happen again?Insights
If you’re were travelling along the North-South Expressway yesterday, December 15th, PLUS’ issues with the RFID lanes at toll plazas meant motorists were strongly advised to use SmarTAG or their Touch n’Go cards instead. As you might expect, it was a frustrating evening for many.
For now, it is uncertain which toll plazas were effected exactly but it’s safe to assume that the system at large caused a significant number of lanes to be behave unpredictably or malfunctioned altogether.
It has been reported that the toll plazas at Juru, Sungai Buloh, and Jalan Duta had been effect.
RFID System Down Causes Chaos
At 9:40pm last night, PLUS have issued an advisory through their social media accounts to warn road users to use alternate means of toll payment. However, by 10.10pm, another post confirmed that it was back to operating as normal.
Though gaining access to the highway by innocently going through the RFID lane (provided it has not been blocked for some reason) could pose no immediate problems, users were likely to get stuck at the gate when trying to exit the highway.
As previously established, motorists that enter a highway using RFID will need to also exit the same highway using an RFID lane lest they be handed a penalty charge. To avoid this, PLUS had also stationed personnel at the effected toll plazas to assist.
The issues surrounding the RFID lanes has been persisting since yesterday morning but apparently hadn’t been resolved over that period.
RFID Problems Will Continue, Even With The System Up
The RFID implementation effort has also seemed to have plateaued after support was added to the major interstate highways such as North-South Expressway. However, many complaints still surround its overall reliability and speed/convenience advantage over SmarTAG.
Detection issues that can cause congestion remain commonplace, a problem compounded by the fact that many toll plazas - even large ones for major thoroughfares in the Klang Valley - do not have any more than a single RFID lane, meaning just one problem with one car can delay a dozen others.
Not only is the detection issue frustrating, but the resulting effect of having cars behind reverse and /or attempt to filter into other TNG or SmarTAG lanes can be quite dangerous.
Will The Outage Happen Again?
This is hard to say, of course. Probability over time point to a 'zero failure' future being basically impossible to achieve, but the bigger question to answer might be why such a failure point is allowed to be so disruptive.
For one, sensor arrays should be made to be more robust so that detection can happen quicker and further away from the barrier to give drivers further warning if there is a problem in order to provide for additional braking distance.
RFID lanes should also come with a fallback TNG reader should the necessity arise to bypass the touchless system(s) altogether.
Thirdly, the entire stipulation that a motorist that used RFID to enter the highway has no choice but to exit the highway with RFID should be worked around. The entire highway payment system has to be more integrated and flexible to means of payment.