Rep. Gatchalian Wants To Defer Cashless Toll Payments Until Next Year

A lawmaker on Wednesday urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to suspend the implementation of the cashless toll collections until the radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems of the two toll operators are made compatible with each other.

Valenzuela Rep. Wes Gatchalian said the DOTr should consider delaying the implementation of the cashless toll payments until next year, which is the government’s target to have full interoperability of the new scheme.

“It puzzles me why the DOTr decided to implement a cashless toll collection scheme when Easytrip and Autosweep are not yet compatible with each other’s tollway system,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian warned that implementing the cashless payment scheme without interoperability will only create more problems for the motoring public.

“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,” Gatchalian said.

Motorists have been given more time to have RFID stickers installed on their vehicles after the DOTr pushed the start of the mandatory cashless transaction in all toll expressways from Nov. 2 to Dec. 1.

The extension is to prevent the long queues currently experienced at toll roads “in the rush to get RFID stickers,” Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) Executive Director Abraham Sales said in a media bulletin.

Sales, however, noted that the deadline would no longer be extended beyond Dec. 1.

Gatchalian argued that not only is it burdensome for motorists to get two different RFID tags, it is also confusing to have to identify between Autosweep and Easytrip, especially for those who rarely use the expressways.

Autosweep tags are issued by the San Miguel Corporation (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, meanwhile, is issued by the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (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).

Gatchalian also noted the limited number of RFID installation sites and their inaccessibility for those living in far-flung areas.

“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,” he said.

Gatchalian has filed House Bill 6119, which seeks to establish a National Electronic Toll Collection System and require all toll collection facilities operating in Philippines expressways to implement technologies and business practices that provide for the interoperability of electronic toll collection programs.

The proposed legislation also mandates the DOTr, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), to create a multi-protocol RFID tag for the National Electronic Toll Collection System.

The new RFID tag must be ready for integration with existing toll collection systems of all expressways and reloadable in all reloading stations.

The bill also mandates that all toll facilities in the country must comply with requirements for toll interoperability within six months of the law’s enactment, otherwise a toll owner or operator who fails to comply with the deadline will be fined PHP5,000 for every day of non-compliance.

The DOTr earlier issued Department Order 2020-012, directing the implementation of cashless toll collections at all expressways and major toll roads to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 in road transportation.

The TRB has assured that the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. and the San Miguel Corp. — the two operators and maintenance providers of the country’s toll expressways — are equipped and ready to implement mandatory cashless transactions and have extended the installation of RFID stickers beyond Nov. 2. (PNA)

Photo Credit: www.pia.gov.ph

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