Heading on a soothing drive home after a long and arduous day might sound like the blessed relief one needs before having to face the grind again come the next work day. But more and more of the working population are finding their drives home to be the most stressful part of their day.
This is exacerbated by the recent toll hike, repelling drivers away from taking the usual highways and instead clogging up smaller roads. There seems to be a disconnect between the authorities who are responsible for traffic planning, the government that have these approved hikes in toll rates, and – most importantly – the Malaysian people.
Isaac Newton phrased it accurately in his third law of motion: every action will have an equal and opposite reaction. In this context, by constructing highways to reduce congestion but also making the tolls expensive, motorists end up not use them and the congestion remains. You’re back to the problem you were trying to solve back in square one. Excellent work.
Earlier this year, we’ve reported on the World Bank’s findings that say Kuala Lumpur’s worsening traffic conditions are, each year, costing the country billions of Ringgit in time, fuel, pollution, and lost productivity. And if something is not done soon, it looks like the situation could get even more dire.
An area like Phileo Damanara seems to have found itself in the eye of a perfect storm. Right outside is Jalan 16/11 that runs parallel to the SPRINT highway – where the toll rate has just doubled as of last Thursday, and funneling more traffic into the toll-free slip road. Previously, those who wanted to avoid the toll did still take that alternative route despite having to endure traffic lights, but the numbers were rather small by comparison.
Now, though, the toll hike has turned many more motorists into the proverbial ‘cheapskates’ that are willing to skirt around small roads, housing estates, and industrial areas for any shortcut to escape the dreaded toll booth. And with good reason.
Unluckily for The Star, their offices are right there at the Phileo business centre and they write that it sometimes takes close to two hours to escape the area’s congestion chokehold, with the tailbacks sometimes starting as early as building’s basement carparks. And, even once that’s over, people most likely still have a ways to go before reaching home. This is no way to live.
The newspaper’s findings have led them to point the blame, at least in majority, to certain traffic lights that remain green for far too brief a period while giving the go to lanes that are much less congested. They wrote that some traffic lights which are critical to dispersing heavy traffic stayed green for as little as 30 seconds. In that time, an average of only 10 cars could make it through.
These days, living close to your workplace is not enough of an advantage to arrive at work or back at home on time. Mind you, this is far from an isolated occurrence. Many other buildings, neighborhoods, and communities are either caught in a jam or not willing to brave the traffic.
Dwellers of the Klang Valley are stuck between a rock and a hard place - they will either have to contend with this crippling congestion or embrace the toll hikes. Clearly, coming to terms with the added penny pinch is happening at a crawling pace for the majority of motorists. And who can blame them, with tolls rates like the SPIRNT highway’s doubling overnight?
Surely this very eventually had to be anticipated in the run up to last week’s toll hike by the government and/or highway concessionaires. After all, finding ways to avoid an expensive toll seems like the obvious reaction to a population growing increasingly cash-sensitive with each passing month.
Charging each motorist a higher toll rates does look like a fruitless pursuit if it results in fewer cars willing to travel on these highways.
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.