Those of you in the Boston area are familiar with the Charlie Card, used for getting into MBTA stations. During rush hours and Sox games, the ability to tap a card and keep walking is a huge stress reliever, since the paper cards have a tendency to get jammed in the machines. There’s nothing quite like having a dozen of more Bostonians trying to set the back of your head on fire with their laser eyes as the machine keeps spitting your ticket back at you.
Malaysia has taken the tap card and just expanded the scope. On the back, it lists all the things you can do with the card–everything from using the subway to going to the movies–but let’s get real. No one uses this to go to the movies. It does, however, work like a charm on the bus, train, subway, monorail, in parking lots and garages, and on toll roads. The latter of these is the real winner. Sure you could have the equivalent of the Fast Pass, that little box that beeps when you ride through the special lane at the toll booth, but why would you pay the monthly fees and purchase costs when you can use a card that does pretty much the same thing? Here the Akleh (“ah-klay”: the toll highway in KL) has been pretty empty every time I’ve been on it, and because it can save about an hour per trip during rush hours, the extra few seconds you take to stop and tap the card are negligible. You’re more likely to be significantly delayed by a motorcycle crash.
The downside to the card is that some places (mostly private enterprises like parking garages) will charge up to 10% more for use of the Touch n’ Go in order to compensate for the fees they pay for allowing its use.When you’re talking about a 10RM parking fee in a garage, you’re only paying about 1RM extra, which works out to about $0.30. In a place where, despite what the tourism board might lead you to believe, bribes for services is not unheard of, a thirty-cent convenience fee feels like getting off easy.