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Tollway regulators asked to rethink RFID

A PARTY-LIST lawmaker on Sunday joined calls for tollways regulators to rethink the implementation of the radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology in expressways to promote contactless transactions and prevent possible transmission of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), saying the two RFID systems are burdensome to motorists.

In response to curbing the spread of the virus through face-to-face transactions, the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) has implemented cashless toll payments using the RFID, but many are facing difficulties because of the limitations in physical registration and issues in using the technology.

“We fully support this policy of the DOTr (Department of Transportation), especially in its efforts to minimize physical contact in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Isa itong magandang hakbang para talagang maiwasan ang pagpasa ng virus through physical contact at syempre para mas mapabilis na rin ang transactions sa mga toll station,” Ang Probinsyano party-list Rep. Alfred Delos Santos, an ally and friend of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) led by House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez as President, said.

“Ngunit, as much as we support this policy, we have to think as well other considerations. Since mayroong dalawang system of RFID systems for toll collection which is, as of the moment, incompatible with one another. Mukhang magiging mahirap ito para sa ating mga motorista,”

Delos Santos said, as he pushed transportation officials to weigh again the implementation of the RFID systems in expressways due to a bevy of issues hounding it.

As it is, there are two RFID systems operating in expressways, namely Autosweep and Easytrip.

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), while Easytrip—issued by the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC)—is used in the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), Cavite Expressway (CAVITEx), C5 Southlink and Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX).

However, this setup is creating confusion and burdensome to motorists, according to Delos Santos.

“Para sa ating mga motorista na hindi naman palaging gumagamit ng expressway, mahirap ito at magulo. Sa mga motorista na galing pang mga probinsya, with the pandemic restrictions, hindi naman ganoon kadaling pumunta at magparehistro ng RFID and siyempre we need to think that not all have the luxury of time to go and register for an RFID,” he said.

“People are willing to abide by the regulation naman pero the problem is mahirap ang proseso at hassle. For example, during the application for the RFID, ang haba ng pila tapos sa toll pa ito gagawin and with the slow rate brought about by difficulty of installing the RFID, kadalasan hindi pa ma-shoot sa scanner, ang daming motorista ang napeperwisyo lalo na yung mga galing pa sa kanilang mga trabaho,” Delos Santos pointed out.

Delos Santos said it would be better if the two systems are interoperable for its smooth implementation. “Naalarma ang ating mga kababayan when this news was released, especially the deadlines. Pero for the interest of our motorists, dapat siguraduhin natin na inuuna rin natin ang kapakanan ng ating mga motorista para hindi rin sila mahirapan. This needs a more institutional policy consideration that should be discussed by various stakeholders, including those from different government departments.”