A HOUSE leader has urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to postpone the implementation of the radio frequency identification (RFID) system in tollways from December 1 to January 1 next year.
House Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo said the one-month postponement would give motor vehicle owners more time to get their RFID stickers installed for the government’s cashless and contactless fee payment scheme in Luzon’s toll roads.
“We support the program, since it aims to stem the spread of the infectious new coronavirus, but there is not much time for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of motorists to comply with the RFID requirement,” Castelo said.
Castelo said the DOTr initially announced that implementation would start last November 2, which was later reset to December 1.
“It cannot be denied that many still do not have their corresponding RFID stickers as indicated by long queues at the official installation sites and toll plazas,” Castelo said.
She added that to facilitate compliance by vehicle owners, toll operators San Miguel Corp. and Metro Pacific subsidiary NLEx Corp., in partnership with private groups and individuals, had to do offsite installation in villages, offices, malls, gasoline stations, and other public areas.
“With the upcoming Christmas season, the volume of vehicles on the road is expected to increase. This can cause massive buildup of traffic in toll plazas and roads leading to the expressways if the Dec. 1 deadline is not reset, considering that many vehicle owners still have to get their RFIDs installed,” she stressed.
“It is therefore suggested that the House of Representatives express its collective sense for the further extension of the deadline to at least Jan. 1 next year,” she said.
At the same time, Castelo called on San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and NLEx Corp. to integrate their RFID and toll collection systems to provide convenience to their millions of customers.
“With integration and interoperability, a vehicle owner has to get only one RFID sticker but has to maintain two accounts. Therefore, he has to queue only once, not twice,” she said.
She said as of now, NLEx Corp.’s Easytrip system can read SMC’s Autosweep RFID, provided the latter is activated or registered with the former.
“This means that NLEx’s RFID can be used in SMC’s tollways like the NAIA Expressway, South Luzon Expressway and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway. But SMC’s Autosweep RFID cannot be used in toll roads run by NLEx Corp. like the North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and Cavite-Laguna Expressway,” she said.
However, Castelo pointed out that it should not take much time and much work to tweak and integrated the two RFID systems for the convenience of millions of users of the two giant corporation’s toll roads.