KL City Hall wants to impose a congestion charge on private vehicles driving in the city centre starting 2017. According to the Sun Daily, Kuala Lumpur Mayor, Datuk Mohd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz, stated that DBKL will implement the charges in the central business district once the public transportation system has been enhanced, referring to the MRT lines that are being built.
Senior Deputy Director of DBKL, Nik Mastura Diyana Nik Mohamad, confirmed that the congestion charges will be implemented, but the rates have not been finalised. She reiterated that the details were still being looked at as the plan is not yet ready to be implemented, saying that there’s no alternative for commuters, reported The Edge Financial Daily.
The MRT 1 line which will run between Sungai Buloh and Damansara Heights is set to begin operations in December 2016 while the second line between Damansara Heights and Kajang is expected to be ready by July 2017.
Once these two lines are operational, DBKL wants to implement these congestion charges as a way of reducing road traffic in the city and encourage the use of public transportation. Apart from congestion fees, DBKL is also looking to reduce available parking bays in the city and make it more expensive for developers to build car parks, thus increasing parking charges overall.
Update 6.36pm, 7/10/16
KL Mayor Datuk Mohd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz has since spoken out to say that the press report is not true. The story continues; we’ll update this article soon.
Congestion charges in other cities
Several other cities in the world have imposed congestion charges, including neighbouring Singapore which employs an Electronic Road Pricing System to manage road congestion. Motorists are charged when they use roads during peak hours on a pay-as-you-use principle. Rates depend on traffic conditions and different roads.
In London, motorists are charged £11.50 (~RM60) for driving in central London between 7am to 6pm on Monday to Friday using a congestion charge auto pay system. Residents are able to apply for 90% discount, however.
In Milan, most vehicles are charged €5 (~RM23) while electric vehicles, buses, taxis, and emergency vehicles are exempt.
In Stockholm, congestion tax, as it is called, varies by time of day with the highest amount being charged during morning and evening rush hour, from about SEK20-30 (~RM10–15). The maximum amount a vehicle can be taxed per day is SEK150 (~RM72).
Several other small towns around Europe have also implemented congestion charges, particularly during peak tourism seasons, to reduce crowding and pollution: Durham in England, Znojmo in Czech Republic, Riga in Latvia, and Valletta in Malta.
The rates seem to vary across the board and as plans are still in the works, its remains to be seen just how much a motorist will be charged for driving within KL city centre. What I am sure of is the oncoming storm of, both positive and negative, opinions and reactions from road users once the charge is in effect, regardless of the amount.
However, I think that as long as the public transportation system is reliable – which it is undeniably not, at the moment – many people will be glad to leave their cars at home and reduce their carbon footprint.