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Following an unofficial announcement earlier this year, the Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) has again confirmed plans to implement the cashless electronic toll collection (ETC) system at all 31 highways and 177 toll plazas in the country by 2017. Yep, that’s next year.

Effective November 9, both the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP) and the Senai-Desaru Highway (SDE) in Johor will go the cashless route. With this new addition, all toll plazas in the Klang Valley will have implemented the ETC system by the end of the year.

There are only three highways (out of 31) that have yet to go cashless, these being the East Coast Expressway Phase 1 (LPT1), Phase 2 (LPT2) and the ELITE Highway. All three will move to the ETC system in 2017, and with it, LLM targets to have the remaining 99 toll plazas (out of 177) to go fully cashless.

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By November 9, there will be 2,288 toll lanes in Malaysia, of which 1,232 and 496 are Touch n’ Go and SmartTAG lanes, respectively. The remaining 560 are cash and Touch n’ Go lanes. The usage rate of ETC among Malaysian traffic as of August 2016 is said to be 93% (138 million out of 149 million users), up from 85% in 2015, and 63% in 2014.

The benefits of the ETC system are clear to see, according to the LLM. The transaction time is reduced from 15 seconds for a cash lane to six seconds with Touch n’ Go, and just three seconds using SmartTAG. Each toll lane’s maximum capacity also goes up from 400 vehicles per hour to 550 with Touch n’ Go, and up to 1,000 vehicles per hour using SmartTAG.

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To prove its effectiveness, a case study was carried out at the Damansara A toll plaza on the SPRINT highway. On March 1, before ETC was implemented, the maximum length of the train of vehicles at the toll booth was measured at 300 metres. By March 23, with ETC in place, it went down to just 10 metres.

Meanwhile, to promote the usage of ETC along the LDP, 68,000 free Touch n’ Go cards will be distributed (users will have to pay a minimum top up of RM5), and SmartTAG units will be sold at a discounted price of RM104.95. For the SDE, 8,000 Touch n’ Go cards will be given out, with SmartTAG offered at RM99.