8 million 'balik kampung' motorists to choke highway
With this massive volume of traffic, there is bound to be congestion and highway concessionaires will be hard-pressed to ensure smooth traffic flow.
Which is why, cooperation from the public is crucial to help ease the congestion, said PLUS Expressways chief operating officer Nik Airina Nik Jaffar.
She said those going back to their hometowns should follow PLUS’ Travel Time Advisory.
“They can enjoy a smoother drive if they plan their travel times effectively,” she said in an interview.
PLUS has begun distributing its advisory, which recommends that highway users plan their journeys according to their destination and traffic flow.
This is to avoid congestion during peak periods and reduce the number of accidents — 1.3 million motorists are expected on the highway each day which is 300,000 more than on a normal day.
“We are trying to stagger their travel times so that they move in batches. Everybody must be wondering what is the best time to travel.
"We advise those travelling far north and south to begin their journey earlier, while those heading to areas nearer to Kuala Lumpur should leave later in the evening," she said.
Those leaving Kuala Lumpur for Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Johor should begin their journey between 12pm and 5pm. Those heading for Taiping, Kuala Kangsar, Ipoh, Simpang Ampat and Ayer Keroh should leave between 5pm and 9pm.
Those travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Tapah, Bidor, Slim River, Tanjung Malim, Seremban, Port Dickson and Senawang can start their journey between 9pm and midnight.
"Those who travel later should be heading to destinations that are nearer. There is heavy traffic going into Perak, and that is why it is divided into two sections," she said.
Nik Airina said the advisory, which was implemented from 2007, had reduced traffic jams on the highway. It was based on traffic data, including travel origins and destinations, especially during festive seasons.
"This is not compulsory. But if we can organise everybody to travel in batches, it would ease the traffic situation."
She said PLUS' travel advisory received good response during the Chinese New Year with 50 per cent of motorists opting to travel at the suggested times.
"We need the cooperation of motorists to be able to help them. Before, we found that people tend to travel at the same time and they crowded the highway in a short period."
Nik Airina said more than 3,000 employees would be on duty. Twelve emergency response teams comprising members of the police, Fire and Rescue Department, Malaysian Red Crescent Society, St John Ambulance and the Civil Defence Department will be on standby at various locations.
There will also be two helicopters to conduct aerial surveillance of traffic congestion, and make frequent traffic reports on radio and television.
"We will open more toll booths and use portable toll equipment to reduce the waiting time. Those travelling long distances should stop every two hours at rest areas. We are doing all we can to make sure they travel safe," she said.
Free drinks will be served at four rest areas along the highway.
The travel advisory will be distributed at all toll plazas and is available at www.plus.com.my.
PLUS will also be offering up to 20 per cent discount on toll charges to Class 1 motorists using the North-South Expressway and Elite in conjunction with the celebrations.
Nik Airina said the discount would be valid from midnight to 7am on Sept 16, 17, 18, 22, 24 and 25.
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