Touch 'n Go: Can't Live Without It Anymore

Touch 'n Go recently received global recognition for its contribution to the transportation technology landscape, so Automologist LING n...

Touch 'n Go recently received global recognition for its contribution to the transportation technology landscape, so Automologist LING now looks at the plastic card she owns a little bit differently.

Here are the things that I need to bring with me, every time I go out: money AND Touch 'n Go card. Everything else can be forgone.

TnG was first launched 20 years ago, about the same time that I got my driver's license. I remember, though, for many years that followed, cash was still king and the way most of us paid toll fare or buy train tickets. Today, I can't go anywhere without a TnG card. I mean that literally. I can't get out of Puchong without using one to pay the toll or LRT fare.

I do so with my one of two TnG cards: one issued by PLUS, the other by Watsons; yes, I can also use the latter to purchase tampons. If I load some money into my MyKad—because all MyKads now can double as a TnG card—that would make it three. Too many, you say? Precaution, I say.

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Like the EZ-Link card in Singapore or the Octopus Card in Hong Kong, the TnG is a piece of plastic that has become an integral part of our daily commute and a necessity for every commuter: it is now required for toll fare payments, since toll plazas have gone cashless; it can be used to pay for parking in many places, if you don't mind the 10% surcharge; it can be used to ride the KTM, LRT, MRT, Monorail, Sunway BRT, KLIA Expres and buses. Beside transport, you can use it to buy donuts or ice-cream (Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins) or be used at other retail merchants, if you don't want to fumble for change.

Like many other things that are ubiquitous, one tends to take it for granted. So, when Touch 'n Go received the World Congress Hall of Fame Asia Pacific Industry Award at the ITS World Congress 2017 this week, I suddenly realised how important this card has become in the 20 years since it was introduced. The Award recognises achievements from pretty much across the world, so this is really something.
TnG CEO, Syahrunizam Samsudin (middle), receiving the award.

The card has made life easier, if you ask me (and you wonder why I have three). Ok, I grant you that it's not perfect. My colleague hasn't had the best experience with it (read The Great Touch 'n Go Swindle). I can't, even after all these years, get over the name that implies 'uncertainty' and also sounds, to me, like a lewd action (think Trump grabbing, er, kittens). It isn't the easiest to use—see how one driver had to improvise to 'touch' the card to the reader:

The problem is prevalent enough that some enterprising people have had the solution manufactured:
If you want one, it's 15 ringgit and can be bought here. I/We endorse nothing, but let us know how you like it if you do buy one.

For people with short arms, who don't own a Smart TAG and don't want to use this fly swatter contraption, good news: the RFID system is coming soon. Read Barrier-less Tolls Coming to Malaysia.


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