Highway operator PLUS Malaysia plans to expand the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to toll payment functions for heavy vehicles such as lorries and buses, the New Straits Times reported.

“We will continue to gather data and make further refinements and explore potential integration with new emerging technologies from 2023 and beyond, with a keen eye on delivering convenience to our highway customers,” PLUS told the New Straits Times in an e-mail interview.

According to the highway operator, 2022 will continue to be a year of data collection through artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning, systems enhancement and fine tuning in order to make journeys on highways even smoother.

The RFID public pilot programme began in September 2018, supporting usage by Class 1 passenger vehicles including SUVs, vans and pick-up trucks. The RFID method of toll payment was initially rolled out on open-toll highways, where fixed toll rates are charged based on the vehicle class.

Later on, RFID toll collection was implemented on closed-toll highways, with PLUS commencing use of the system on the North-South Expressway from January 15 this year.

PLUS told the New Straits Times that the introduction of the RFID technology was in line with the government’s intention to move to a multi-lane free flow (MLFF) toll collection system, and with this in mind, the RFID technology is still in its public pilot phase and is aimed at resolving issues such as enforcement, payments options and convenience to customers.

“The transition to MLFF is still a work in progress as PLUS is committed to working with the government towards achieving this goal,” the highway operator said.

On the subject of the RFID tags’ affordability, the retail price of the tags are not decided or levied by the company in any way, PLUS Malaysia said. At present, the RFID self-fitment kit retails for RM35 apiece.

“It is at the sole discretion of Touch ‘n Go, who is the owner of gateway payment products including the Touch ‘n Go card and SmartTAG device. The remit for PLUS is the installation, system integration and operation of the gantry-mounted readers at toll plazas, while maintaining the ISO IEC180000-6C standard,” the highway operator said.

“As we receive more traffic through the RFID lanes, we collect more data. This additional data allows us to continuously tweak and refine the systems as required in order to give our customers a smoother journey experience,” it continued.