Singapore-JB toll hike: Business as usual for some, fewer trips for others

A car in Johor heading for the Causeway. Some Singapore travellers say they will cut down on leisure trips if Malaysia raises the toll fee.
A car in Johor heading for the Causeway. Some Singapore travellers say they will cut down on leisure trips if Malaysia raises the toll fee.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

A reported move by Malaysia to raise toll charges for the Causeway has drawn mixed reactions from regular travellers on both sides of the Johor Strait.

While some leisure seekers said they would cut down on trips to eat and shop in the neighbouring state, business owners say they have little choice but to carry on despite the increase.

Reports earlier this month said Malaysia's Works Ministry will raise toll charges for all vehicles except motorcycles entering Johor from Singapore via the Johor Baru Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex at the Causeway.

It did not state the reason.

Malaysia will also impose a new Causeway toll for all outbound vehicles entering Singapore from Johor. Both changes will reportedly kick in tomorrow.

If the reports are true, private vehicle drivers entering Johor from Singapore via the Causeway must pay RM9.70 (S$3.80), up from the current RM2.90 now.

Those travelling to Singapore from Johor must pay RM6.80 to enter, when previously there was no charge. Buses will have to pay RM13.30 for a two-way trip, while taxis will be charged RM8.20 per round trip.

In response, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has said that it will match the new toll charges due to Singapore's longstanding position of matching whatever toll rates Malaysia sets. LTA has also asked its Malaysian counterparts to confirm the toll hike.

Mr Zack Kua, 29, who works in a bank and who drives to Johor for golf about once or twice a month, said he would cut back. "It's an additional, and quite frankly, unnecessary cost, but a factor I have to consider. Maybe I'll go once every two months from now on."

Pharmaceutical supervisor Toh Boon Teck, 28, will also not be driving up with his friends for shopping trips or meals. "These hikes defeat the purpose of going (because) whatever money is saved will be used to pay for the toll charges, so there's no point."

Mr Peter Tan, who carpools to Johor with a few friends for golf, said he will continue doing so.

"It's still affordable if we split the cost," said the 59-year-old who is self-employed. "Besides, the Singapore currency is strong against the ringgit, so we can still absorb the extra cost."

Some business owners like Mr Lee Desmond Bernavey, said the extra charges would not have a "major impact". "It doesn't hit us that hard because we bring in about $3,000 to $4,000 worth of produce a day on one lorry," said the 40-year-old director of fruit and vegetable wholesaler FreshDirect. "But the smaller operators who make short trips will suffer."

Singapore Fruits and Vegetables Importers and Exporters Association chairman Tay Khiam Back said that it would be "business as usual" if the extra charges apply.

"It's still too early to say anything though; the fee hikes have not been confirmed yet."

jianxuan@sph.com.sg