Surcharge for single, low-occupancy vehicles entering KL city to encourage carpooling, reduce jam – expert

Surcharge for single, low-occupancy vehicles entering KL city to encourage carpooling, reduce jam – expert

What’s the best way to reduce traffic congestion and boost public transport usage? A surcharge for single or low-occupancy vehicles entering KL city is one of the ways to do so, says Universiti Putra Malaysia road safety research centre head Assoc Prof Dr Law Teik Hwa.

He said some six million vehicles enter KL daily and at least 2.2 million do so during peak hours, as compiled in a study carried out in April and conducted using the Automatic Real-time Incident Detection System. ARIDS is powered by artificial intelligence that uses social media apps and Google traffic data to detect incidents that impact traffic speed, such as accidents and vehicle breakdowns.

“Among the busiest roads are Jalan Sungai Besi, Jalan Kuching, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Jalan Klang Lama, Jalan Kuchai Lama, Jalan Cheras, Jalan Tarawih, Jalan Damansara and the Duke, Salak and KL-Seremban highways. Based on DBKL findings, motorists in the Klang Valley spend about RM6.8 billion annually on petrol while stuck in traffic during their daily commute to and from work. Efforts should be made to reduce this burden,” he said, reported by The Sun.

Surcharge for single, low-occupancy vehicles entering KL city to encourage carpooling, reduce jam – expert

The obvious answer is public transport, which are involved in fewer accidents per passenger mile compared with private cars and contribute to safer streets by reducing the number of vehicles on the road and promoting pedestrian friendly spaces, Law said.

But with commuters stubbornly sticking to their cars, other methods to control vehicle numbers should be enforced, and Law suggested surcharges in several forms, including ‘Variable Charging Based on Occupancy’, which varies based on the number of passengers in vehicles. “Higher charges apply to vehicles with fewer passengers, with rates decreasing as vehicle occupancy increases. This would encourage carpooling and reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips,” he said.

Meanwhile, ‘Time of Day Pricing’ levies higher charges during peak hours when congestion is typically worse. If motorists avoid peak hours, it would help spread out traffic flow. ‘Integration with Public Transport’ offers incentives or exemptions for vehicles that integrate with public transport networks, such as park-and-ride facilities or preferential access to designated lanes for buses and carpools.

Surcharge for single, low-occupancy vehicles entering KL city to encourage carpooling, reduce jam – expert

The most complex suggestion is ‘Dynamic Adjustment’, which adjusts charges based on real-time traffic conditions and congestion levels.

“Authorities could implement the methods after a study to ascertain which would be most effective. Considering the majority of Malaysians rely on private vehicles and nearly 90% of daily road users commute alone, discouraging private vehicle usage would contribute to better traffic conditions,” the academic said.

Is traffic jam solely the fault of motorists? Aside from the high number of cars, Law said that traffic management issues such as inefficient traffic light systems and timing, poor traffic flow management and a lack of synchronised traffic signals are among the main reasons for congestion.

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