MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. asked toll road operators on Monday to “get their act together” and fix the issues being raised by motorists as they shift to cashless payments starting Nov. 2.
Revilla, vice chairman of the Senate committee on public services, noted that many of the complaints were the supposed inaccessibility of installation centers and unavailability of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) stickers.
While operators were not entirely at fault because of extraordinary considerations brought about by the coronavirus diseases 2019 (COVID-19) and the “public’s penchant for doing things last minute,” they are still responsible and accountable, the senator said in a statement.
“Bakit hindi nila pinaghandaan [Why didn’t they prepare for this]? There’s no excuse,” he said.
“They have to get their acts together, fix the issues, and do what they have to,” Revilla stressed.
He then urged the tollway operators— Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) and San Miguel Corporation (SMC)— to improve accessibility to RFID tags and ensure that their infrastructure for the shift to cashless is working and properly in place.
MPTC operates the North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, Manila-Cavite Expressway, C5 Link, and Cavite-Laguna Expressway, while SMC operates the South Luzon Expressway, Skyway, NAIA Expressway, Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, and Star Tollways.
“Mukha yatang nauna ang press release bago ang aktwal na kahandaan. Kitang- kita na hindi sila handa sa volume ng mga kukuha ng mga RFID,” Revilla said.
(It seems that they prioritized the press release rather than the actual preparation. It’s very obvious that they did not anticipate the volume of those who would get the RFID.)
“Napaka-kaunti ng mga installation centers na kadalasan, nauubusan pa ng stickers… We have actually reached out and partnered with MPTC in Cavite for pop-up installation booths, but these are still not enough. Tapos half day pa lang, wala nang stickers.”
(There are few installation centers that most of the time run out of stickers.)
Revilla also lashed out at the Easytrip system, “for its failures.”
Instead of speeding up the process of getting through toll collection booths, the senator lamented that the Easytrip RFID Collection System exacerbated the situation.
“The barriers won’t open. Their readers couldn’t read their tags. Nagiging kilometro ang traffic. Mas mabilis pa sa cash lanes dumaan,” he said.
(The barriers won’t open. Their readers couldn’t read their tags. The traffic becomes kilometric. It’s faster to use the cash lanes.)
”Meron din na magbubukas after a while, pero ‘di pa nakakalampas yung sasakyan, biglang babagsak yung barrier. Ayun, yupi ang kotse.”
(There are instances that the barrier will open but seconds after it closes down on you. The result is you get a dent on your car.)
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) earlier directed all toll road operators to shift to cashless payments starting Nov. 2.