MEX-Highway-01

Last week, Malaysians became aware of the Long Journey Time (LJT) penalty that PLUS charges for “overstaying” on the highway. Motorist Damar Wulan posted his RM9.40 fine receipt online, received for exceeding the time limit when travelling from Gurun to Pendang, and it went viral.

It has been around for some time, the LJT, and PLUS says that it’s to prevent highway users from “tricking the system”. According to the highway concessionaire, among the tactics used are switching, keeping and manipulating the transit cards. Its records indicate that the number of such cases is increasing every year.

PLUS explained that for instance, the journey between Gurun and Pendang toll plazas will ideally take 30 minutes. The system adds on 138 minutes to the 30 minutes to take into account the possibility of the motorist using the Gurun R&R. PLUS will note all incidents (accidents, traffic jam, maintenance works) that could cause highway users to exceed the allotted time, and toll booth operators will take into account the info before deciding if the LJT penalty is imposed.

Following the incident and PLUS’ explanation, groups are urging the company to fine tune the LJT charge by placing emphasis on safety and adequate rest needed by highway users, Bernama reports.

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Kuala Lumpur Consumer Safety Association (PKP) president Samsudin Mohamad Fauzi said PLUS should be more concerned about the safety and comfort of its highway users by not imposing any other charges as consumers were left with fewer choices but to use the PLUS highway.

“We expressed concern that this situation will only lead to reckless driving by users who spent too much time at the rest and service (R&R) areas just to avoid the fine which will not only endanger themselves but other road users as well,” he said in a statement to national news agency.

Samsudin also suggested that PLUS look for other ways to resolve the toll transit card manipulation problem instead of taking the easy way out by imposing the fine which would pose a burden to users. He added that PLUS should also give rebates to motorists who are stuck in congestion caused by maintenance work.

The head of the little known NGO then urged the Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) to immediately order PLUS to abort the imposition of the LJT fine.

In any case, it’s not a mainstream problem affecting most normal travellers. One hundred and sixty eight minutes (nearly three hours) allocation for a 30 minute journey on a day with clear traffic sounds fair, no? What do you think?