Don’t implement cashless toll payments until RFIDs are interoperable – solon tells DOTr
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) should not implement cashless toll payments until radio-frequency identification (RFID) of the two toll operators had become interoperable, Valenzuela 1st District Rep. Wes Gatchalian said in a statement on Wednesday.
Gatchalian said it “puzzles me” why the DOTr decided to implement a cashless toll collection scheme when Easytrip and Autosweep were not yet compatible with each other’s tollway system
“Since the government targets to have full interoperability by next year anyway, then we should also consider delaying the implementation of the cashless toll collection until next year,” Gatchalian said.
The lawmaker urged the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) to suspend the implementation of the cashless toll collection until both RFID systems could be made compatible with each other.
The DOTr originally ordered toll expressways to fully implement the contactless payment scheme by Nov. 2 but complaints from motorists made the transport agency push the implementation to Dec. 1.
“I understand that TRB Executive Director Abraham Sales has said there will no longer be extensions after December 1, but implementing the cashless payment scheme without interoperability will only create more problems for our motoring public,” Gatchalian said.
“While we fully support the shift to cashless transaction to lessen physical contact to contain the spread of COVID-19, the move should have been carefully planned and coordinated by the two toll operators to ease the burden of consumers to apply for and load up two different RFID cards,” he added.
Gatchalian raised a point that it would be “burdensome” for motorists to get two different RFID tags, adding that it might be confusing to identify between Autosweep and Easytrip, especially for those who rarely use the expressways.
Autosweep tags are issued by the San Miguel Corp. (SMC) for the Skyway, South Luzon Expressway (SLEx), STAR Tollway, Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway (TPLEx), Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway (NAIAx), and the Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway (MCX).
Easytrip is issued by the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) to be used in the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), Cavite Expressway (CAVITEx), C5 Southlink, and Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX).
“It’s not easy for those who live outside of Metro Manila and far from the expressways to have to drive to an installation booth and get an RFID. We have to consider safety precautions because of the coronavirus pandemic plus not everyone has the time to go to an installation site,” Gatchalian said.
He earlier pushed for the passage of House Bill No. 6119, which proposes to establish a national electronic toll collection system for all expressways in the country, minimizing physical contact while on road, particularly between motorists and toll collectors.
Under the bill, the National Electronic Toll Collection System (NETCS) will be established requiring all toll collection facilities operating in Philippine expressways to implement technologies and business practices that will provide for the interoperability of electronic toll collection (ETC) programs in their respective expressways.
It also orders various government agencies such as the Department of Transportation (DOTR), in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), to create a multi-protocol radio frequency identification (RFID) tag.
The RFID tag shall be readily integrated with the existing ETC system of all expressways and the RFID account for the NETCS shall be reloadable in the reloading stations of the existing ETCs.