Published on May 8th, 2020 | by Subhash Nair


My MCO Interstate Travel Experience Using GoCar

Let me just preface this by telling you this is the full travel story and not primarily a review of my GoCar experience. I will label each section of the story for your skimming convenience.

Problems Planning Travel

The Movement Control Order (MCO) produced personal difficulties for all of us. Thankfully, most of mine were minor. However, one problem I’ve had to resolve since day one was the fact that my mother had come to Subang Jaya to visit her sister just before the MCO, leaving my father alone in Johor Bahru. With interstate travel completely banned, we accepted in the first few weeks that we would all just have to live with the situation.

However, as May rolled around, it was suggested that a new app called Gerak Malaysia would be used to grant interstate travel permission before the end of the MCO period.

BHPetrol Kaya Raya Contest April to may 2020

Chicken & Egg situation

Almost every other day, my mother and I would input our travel details into the Gerak Malaysia app, which would go through, but not furnish us with a receipt, so we just captured screen shots of our application and hoped it would help.

Gerak Malaysia app has improved since the BETA version

The longer we waited, the fewer options we had. We had first thought of travelling with GoCar‘s Nissan Almeras using their One-Way option. This would allow us to drop the car off in Johor Bahru and not worry about the return trip. However, we were still unsure about when we would travel, and soon every Almera available for One-Way trips had been booked. Other car rental services existed, but there were issues there too. Most of the established names didn’t have functioning apps and their offices were closed due to strict MCO rules at the time. SoCar’s app was just not working out on either of our phones. GoCar’s interface, while not perfect was the most familiar and functional.

We decided to book the car from the morning of the 7th to the morning of the 8th in case traffic on the 7th was so bad it caused us to arrive late and rush to the drop-off point.

By that time, PDRM had confirmed that latest version of the Gerak Malaysia app was functional enough and they’d get the information even if QR codes weren’t being produced.

Travelling with GoCar

My mother had been staying in USJ, while I had my place along Old Klang Road. The GoCar we ended up renting was a Renault Captur. I had personal experience using the GoCar app to secure a Captur for a 3-hour test drive before, so I wasn’t too anxious about travel on the day itself.

While I am thankful that GoCar was great for our purpose, we have a few suggestions on how to improve the experience:

Making locations easier to find.

However, I wanted to know where the car was located in the airport itself, which leads to my first criticism: they should make this clearer. I googled “GoCar Subang Airport Terminal 3”. Most of the links didn’t give me a direct answer. But the first video suggestion indirectly answered my question. At the 0.35 mark, the GoCar hub location is shown.

I would suggest the GoCar team populate their channel with dashcam/POV walking directions to each of their hubs and locations. This would help first-timers out, as a lot of the time security guards are the first people we approach for help.

BHPetrol Kaya Raya Contest April to may 2020

Use Clear Signage for Directions

When returning the car to the Bay Laurel Go Car Hub, there was absolutely no signage for me to follow. And because it was a one-way trip from Subang Airport, the GoCar app did not offer directions to the Bay Laurel Hub.

It was especially confusing, because Bay Laurel did not have its own entrance. When you see the sign for Bay Laurel, there is only an exit. I had to stop and ask security guards. They redirected me back to King’s Bay’s entrance.

Bay Laurel, 2nd apartment complex on your left
King’s Bay, 1st apartment complex on your left before Bay Laurel

Even as you enter King’s Bay, there’s no signage indicating that it’s also Bay Laurel’s entry point. Nor are there any GoCar signs.

Perhaps GoCar could not get permission from the building owners to put signage up, so I can’t blame them too much.

On the drive back, I explained how GoCar’s app-based system worked to my father. He was impressed as he rightly should be. But a few practical improvements would make the car much more usable.

The GoCar Car Itself

Honestly, I ended up rating the trip 4 stars. Because besides the complaints above, the rest of the experience was straight forward and pleasant.

I only had one other minor negative experience with my drive – all four tyres were under inflated. I made it a point to check this before my 300km interstate trip. Daniel pointed out how the GoCar near his house had flat tyres for weeks, and the GoCar team responded to us on Facebook.

The drive from KL to JB in the Renault Captur was otherwise faultless. The cars pleasant character, speed limiter and cruise control features were all conducive to Malaysian highway driving. I could set 110km/h on the limiter when AES cameras were coming up and be assured no speeding tickets would come my way. The car also sipped petrol thanks to the efficient 1.2-litre turbo engine and dual clutch transmission. I paired my phone’s Bluetooth and enjoyed some tunes along the way.

How was Driving on the PLUS Highway during MCO?

I had a bit of anxiety about driving on the highway on day 1 of the 3 day interstate travel window. 700,000 people would be allowed to travel and my concerns were as follows:

  1. Car break downs
  2. Heavy Traffic
  3. Police Roadblocks

Cars breaking down after 2 months of neglect and sudden extended use was a primary concern. As it turned out we spotted at least 5 lorries and cars pulled over to the side with breakdowns. Most of these looked like flat tyres. So if you are travelling, make sure you tyres are inflated and in good condition. Our own Captur rental made it through just fine besides the under inflated tyres at the beginning.

Almost no cars on the scenic Pagoh stretch of the Plus highway

Traffic on the PLUS highway was free flowing in both directions. In fact, there were SO FEW cars on the road, my mother said this was how PLUS highway travel used to be when it first opened. Without much traffic, there was no real need to drive excessively fast. That being said, the occasional speed demon did pass us by, but this happened once every 40 minutes or so. Not every 3 minutes like it usually is on the PLUS highway.

Waze initially showed 4 police warnings on our route. However, every one of those ended up being false alarms, or at least no longer valid when we passed them by. Not a single road block was setup along the way. Not at the tolls plazas either. PLUS highway crew members were on the road helping to manage the flow at the Skudai, JB toll though. Even then it was mostly smooth. We also noted a high number of police patrol cars.

What’s Next?

Well, the Gerak Malaysia app only allows for one way travel, so it looks like I’m stuck in my hometown until the MCO is lifted and interstate travel returns to normal. Until then, my updates here will continue. Let us know about your own car rental or interstate travel stories and we may publish them here too.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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