THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), together with tollway concessionaires, have assured that toll plazas are ready to go on cashless transactions starting December 1, 2020.
More than 3.2 million radio frequency identification (RFID) were installed in line with the DOTr directive to implement the new toll payment scheme.
During the virtual meeting on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, officials discussed the status of the installation of RFID stickers as the date for the start of the new process draws near.
The briefing was joined by transport officials headed by DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark Steven Pastor; TRB Executive Director Abraham Sales; and private partners Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, Skyway O&M Corporation, Manila Toll Expressway Systems, Star Tollways Corporation and Ayala-MCX.
Sales said the agency is continuously conducting an audit of all expressways to monitor RFID installations.
In its latest data, he reported that a total of over 3.2-million RFIDs have already been installed on vehicles as of November 22, 2020.
Over 1.8 million RFIDs have been installed since the release date of Department Order 2020-012, which declared the mandatory use of cashless or contactless payment transactions at the tollways.
As of November 24, TRB records show that the daily RFID sticker installation capacity for both the AutoSweep and EasyTrip toll systems reached 30,000.
"Today, we can say that we are ready to implement ‘yung Department Order 2020-12 o ‘yung tinatawag na cashless and contactless toll transaction. One hundred percent po, we are ready to implement that with the support and full cooperation of the operators,” Sales said.
Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) Chief Communication Officer Romulo Quimbo said RFID stickers installed for the MPTC network is now at 66.4 percent.
He added that as of November 23, the company has already installed over 1.5-million RFID stickers.
The MPTC added that Toll Gate Customer Support personnel were dispatched at their toll plazas to assist motorists and serve as traffic management augmentation crew.
"We are facing the next normal or the [new] normal. And the RFID is here to stay. We will continue to install RFID stickers way, way beyond the December 1 deadline," Quimbo said.
Meanwhile, Ayala-MCX expressed support for cashless transactions at tollways and reported a significant increase of RFID coverage in their network.
"As of today (November 25, 2020), we are seeing about 67 percent of our total motorists converted already [to RFID] on our daily traffic. So similar to what Junjie is seeing sa North, ganoon din po halos ang nakikita naming trend as far as MCX is concerned," Ayala-MCX Operations Manager Joseph Canlas said.
"Kaisa po kami ng DOTr, ng TRB, at ng atin pong mga kasamahan sa industriya sa pagsuporta po doon sa adhikain po natin na by December 1 ay 100 percent cashless na po tayo,” he added.
On the part of San Miguel Infrastructure Tollways, President and Chief Executive Officer of Skyway O&M Corporation Manuel M. Bonoan has reported that their electronic toll collection (ETC) penetration rate has reached 77 percent, with only 23 percent cash users.
"Let me just say na 'yung San Miguel Corporation started the promotion of AutoSweep RFIDs, February 2015 pa 'ho kami nagma-market nito. And in fact, we have already been accommodating all RFID customers natin. Lahat ng binibigay natin is actually free since then. As of now, we have given almost 1.7 million stickers as of November 23."
The cashless transactions at tollways was initially scheduled on November 2 but was moved to December 1 to give motorists time to have RFID stickers installed on their vehicles.
The implementation of cashless transaction is being pushed, especially at the time of the pandemic, to reduce the risk of virus transmission among tellers and motorists.
The DOTr said the program is aimed to "improve travel time with shorter queueing time at toll plazas, reduce fuel consumption by lessening engine idling, lessens vehicle wear and tear, and supports the clean air initiative of the country."