SmartTAG and RFID are often at the centre of heated arguments. Which one do you like better?
In September, PLUS Expressways said that by 2022, all of the highway tolls they run in Malaysia will have at least one lane just for RFID users. It’s the next step toward making travel easier. It goes along with the Touch ‘n Go and SmartTAG lanes that are already in place, but there have been a lot of “discussions” online, especially about the possibility of them being phased out. Now, there is only one question left: which is better?
The Malaysian government has been pushing RFID, which stands for “Radio Frequency Identification,” as the “best” and “latest” way to collect tolls from highway users before implementing the multi-lane traffic free-flow system, which is the future. The idea is a good one, but most Malaysians know that putting it into action is where the problems lie.
The Austrian company Efkon Asia, which makes and sells devices that work with SmartTAG, said that the SmartTAG system shouldn’t be phased out, and they have data to back up their claim. This year alone, about 75%, or 270,000, of new cars came with either a built-in SmartTAG reader or a portable device that could read SmartTAG tags. In Malaysia, there are about five million people who use SmartTAG.
Even Helmuth Blasch, who is in charge of Efkon Asia, said that the company’s SmartTAG-compatible units are 10,000 times faster than the RFID system. This is because the SmartTAG system is active, while the RFID system is passive (a battery-powered SmartTAG device wakes up in about 2 milliseconds, while RFID takes about 45 milliseconds).
Even though the RFID system is directly linked to the Touch ‘n Go e-Wallet account balance, which makes it easy to add money through the app instead of going to the terminals or gas stations, this only works for closed-system tolls with a set amount to be paid, not for open-system tolls like the PLUS highway, where the amount to be paid depends on how far you drive. For those, the tolls will be taken out of the credit on the Touch ‘n Go card.
For now, we’ll just have to go by our own preferences until someone or something comes up with an amazing answer to the never-ending toll debate in this country. How should we handle all of this? Just get all three, make sure there’s a good balance, and you’ll never have to wait at a toll booth again. A way that’s even faster? No charges at all. But that was a long time ago and in a galaxy far, far away.