(Not so) Easy Pass

Some of you commuters in The City of Traffic (Krung Thep Mahanakorn) may have noticed a lane reserved solely for users of Easy Pass electronic toll payment system. You may have also noticed an increase in congestion in the areas leading to the toll booths.

The Expressway Authority of Thailand (EAT) decided to roll out this system in the hopes of either making travel more convenient (PR spin) or making more money (cynical view). Over 50,000 commuters bought into the system last year, but when they started testing it they encountered a software glitch.

But if it works, thousands of commuters a day are going to enjoy the convenience of breezing through the toll gates as their fee automatically debited from an electronic account.

So why don’t I think it is a good idea?

No Big Brother issues here, for once. I strongly believe that Easy Pass is fundamentally at odds with the Thai mentality. You are going to see a rise in traffic jams because of the following categories of drivers:

1. Commuter too busy to notice that the line breezing along is for Easy Pass users only, gets to the gate and protests ignorance, insisting on just paying in cash.

2. Commuter (likely a self-entitled asshole in a Benz or BMW) notices that the line for Easy Pass users only is moving fastest, gets to the gate and feigns ignorance, insisting on just paying in cash.

3. That prick who likes cutting in an out of traffic (usually driving a pick-up with a covered bed) takes advantage of the faster Easy Pass lane, and, right before reaching the tollbooth, will try to cut into a normal lane at the last minute.

So instead of making things go faster, this Easy Pass is going to add another layer to the delicious cake that is Bangkok traffic (joining taxis parked/creeping along the side of the road, VIP shopping/movie motorcades, and urban train crossings).

What can EAT do about this?

The only solution I envision is to wave offenders through and have cops waiting to pull them over. Let them know right away that they have to pay a stupidity fine. Say, 200 baht for category 1, and half of whatever is in their wallet if they are category 2. For category 3, take whatever is higher, plus a whack on the head with a tack hammer.

Repeat offenders should be photographed and their pictures published in newspapers and online, under the headline DUMBASS DRIVERS with a caption under each picture with name, car model, license plate, and category of offense. Women will have their estimated weight printed (with an additional five kilos) and men their penis size (Ex: Ferrari drivers no more than 4 inches).

If they do all this, then I change my mind. Easy Pass is a GREAT idea!


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