Dept to return fines to motorists

Dept to return fines to motorists

New toll system causes confusion

The Transport Ministry has ordered the Highways Department to put the brakes on the collection of hefty fines linked to the new M-Flow toll payment system for a month to give motorists time to adjust, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said yesterday.

Mr Saksayam told the department to temporarily shelve the fine -- equivalent to 10 times the original toll fee, which must also be paid -- with immediate effect until March 31.

He also instructed the department to extend the deadline for toll payments from the current two days to within a week, saying seven days is more suitable for motorists to prepare the payment.

He also explained that the 10-fold fine is legitimate under the Act on Prescribing Fees for Use of Highways and Bridges by Auto Vehicles to prevent any avoidance of payment.

Since the system's first full day of operation on Feb 15 on Motorway 9, the M-Flow gateway has seemed to cause confusion among motorists about which traffic lane they are supposed to be in, leading many to frantically change lanes. As a result, the system -- designed to curb congestion -- has led to tailbacks about 3 kilometres long ahead of toll-collection booths.

Mr Saksayam said authorities have set up barriers stretching for about 1km along the four lanes designated as M-Flow lanes to make the system clearer. The motorway sees about 200,000 vehicles pass along it every day.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the M-Flow system also faced a problem with payments from 9pm to noon the following day.

Many motorists who passed the M-Flow gateway at that time made transactions to pay the tolls, but the payment status was deferred until it passed the two-day deadline.

This automatically made them subject to a whopping fine they should not have had to pay.

Krungthai Bank, responsible for the system, was notified and has already fixed the issue, Mr Saksayam said.

"I want to apologise to the public for the lack of sufficient publicity informing motorists about the new system. Many motorists are not aware about this service. They don't have any clear idea where they are supposed to pay the tolls," he said.

Mr Saksayam said motorists who have already paid the fine or mistakenly made repeat payments can get a full refund by contacting the the Highways Department call centre on the 1586 hotline and pressing 1.

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