SINGAPORE - Motorists crossing the Causeway on Wednesday evening said traffic was slightly smoother than usual after higher toll fees kicked in.
Technical support officer Nelson Chong, 26, said he took 15 minutes to clear the Causeway around 4pm, instead of the usual half an hour. The Singaporean was on his way to a relative's home in Johor for a meal.
The smooth traffic in the evening was in stark contrast to the morning commute which took motorists almost two hours to cross the Causeway. Motorists said this was a normal occurrence and there was no noticeable drop in traffic volume in the morning.
Businesses frequented by Singaporeans in Johor, near the Causeway, however said sales fell on Wednesday, possibly due to fewer day trippers to Malaysia.
A supervisor at a Shell Station located just after the Causeway said fuel sales dropped by 20per cent, compared to previous weekdays.
Over at Legend Car Wash, supervisor Ramu Anandan, 26, said the number of cars his staff washed fell from the usual 200 to 140.
Mr Noor Kadir Sultan, a shop assistant at a 24-hour minimart, said many of his Singaporean customers complained to him about the higher tolls. He said his takings fell by 30 per cent. But he remained optimistic that sales will bounce back after two weeks, which was the case in August when Malaysia raised its toll fees for vehicles entering Johor from Singapore. Singapore-bound vehicles also had to pay a new toll.
Singapore's Land Transport Authority announced that it would match the rates shortly after the change was made, saying it was a long-standing policy to match the tolls set by Malaysia.
A two-way trip by car via the Causeway will now cost around $13.10 in combination with tolls levied by Malaysia.
But not all Singaporeans were put off by the higher tolls.
Sales executive Gerald Lim, 24, who was in Johor for a car wash and a meal, said he would continue his twice- or thrice-weekly visits there. The rates were still affordable for him, he said.
"I think it's fair for Singapore to raise the toll fees. Singaporean drivers have to pay road tax and Singapore roads already have so many cars," he added.