PLUS recently announced that the RFID toll payment system for the stretch between Hutan Kampung in Kedah and Sungai Dua in Penang has gone live starting from today, 31 October. This also marked the end of the public pilot test in the Northern section of North-South Expressway which was launched in July 2020.
While that doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, there is one particular part of the PLUS’ announcement that caught our attention though: the mention of Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system. Working together with a Toll Validation Centre (TVC), they would ensure a seamless journey for RFID users at PLUS highway according to the company.
When we tried to obtain more information regarding the implementation, the search had led us to this RFID booklet that PLUS has published on its website [pdf]. It revealed that the RFID payment system at all nine toll plazas within the Hutan Kampung and Sungai Dua stretch have been integrated with ANPR.
Equipped with high-resolution cameras, the ANPR system would capture and record a vehicle’s plate number into a centralised depository which would then match the number with the corresponding RFID tag. In the event of a problematic transaction, the TVC would then step in to look at the info captured by ANPR to verify and calculate the exact toll cost for the user.
We do wonder why PLUS decided to integrate the ANPR system with RFID as theoretically, the company could actually implement it as a standalone payment system instead of just being used to verify RFID transactions. One great example of a successful ANPR payment system in Malaysia is the Sunway Smart Parking in Sunway Pyramid which supports multiple payment options including manual Touch ‘n Go card and Visa debit/credit card tap at the exit.
Then again, PLUS has deemed the implementation of the RFID – ANPR system as the first step towards the ultimate goal of having the barrierless multi-lane free-flow highway experience in Malaysia. Well, let’s see how things go from here then.