JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A proposed move by the Johor state government to impose a surcharge of S$10 (RM30) on Touch n Go cards with insufficient balance for vehicles that enter Johor from Singapore has drawn a mixed response from Singaporean motorists.
The plan for the surcharge on the electronic payment cards is meant to ease traffic congestion at the Causeway and the Second Link.
The Star reported on Friday (Feb 16) that the state government is considering several methods at the checkpoints, including removing reload booths at the checkpoint entrances as motorists who stop to reload their cards would slow traffic down.
"We should impose a surcharge similar to Singapore's charge of S$10 (RM30) for cards with insufficient balance when entering Johor," Johor Public Works, Regional and Rural Development Committee chairman Hasni Mohamed said.
"I do not think that just reducing the levy for heavy vehicles to RM50 at the Second Link will help ease the traffic congestion at the Causeway," he said. "We need to upgrade the infrastructure as well,'' he added.
Datuk Hasni is a member of a special task force headed by the Deputy Prime Minister to ease congestion at both checkpoints.
Sales assistant Felicia Ngoi, 29, who travels to Johor Baru on the weekends, welcomed the plan if it could help improve traffic flow at the checkpoints.
"Every time I come to Johor Baru, I'll see many drivers stopping by to top up their cards and it causes congestion," she said.
Ngoi said it usually takes her about 90 minutes during peak hours to reach Taman Sentosa, even though it is about 5km from the Johor Causeway.
Pharmacist Lee Foo Yun, 35, said it was the responsibility of motorists to check if they have enough credit in their Touch n Go cards before entering Johor Baru.
Another road user identified only as Melissa, 33, said that while removing the booths could be a good idea, first-time Singaporean drivers could run into problems as they may not know where to buy the cards.
"The Johor authorities could distribute flyers on the plan to motorists coming from Singapore to avoid inconveniencing them," she said.
Hasni said other measures being considered included increasing the number of toll booths at the Second Link from 24 to match with the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex which has up to 39 booths.
He said better traffic management methods at both checkpoints could also include separating bigger and larger trailers from smaller lorries for faster clearance and increasing the number of security personnel during peak hours.
He also suggested building a covered walkway for pedestrians at the Causeway.
"We hope with the meetings already underway, something can be done within the next three to six months," he added.
Asked if a new checkpoint will be built for pedestrians, Hasni said there was no plan to do so for now.