Tollway operators on track to go cashless by Nov. 2

Published August 29, 2020, 5:00 AM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

Toll expressways operators are on track to implement 100 percent cashless transactions on the government’s November 2, 2020 deadline.

The Skyway system, the NAIA Expressway (NAIAX) South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), the STAR tollway and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) are all ready, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang announced.

For its part, the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) is also ready for cashless transactions.

“Our expressway network – the North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, Manila-Cavite Expressway, and Cavite-Laguna Expressway is primed for cashless and contactless transactions,” announced Rodrigo E. Franco, MPTC President and CEO.  

Already, SMC has set up additional lanes on its expressways, reconfigured systems and installed Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) stickers for free on all types of vehicles.

“We have completed the reconfiguration of these cashless lanes to help ensure a smooth transition and hopefully, minimal delays for motorists,”  according to Ang. 

“Implementing this measure is a priority for us because it is in line with government health regulations and will better protect both our motorists and expressway employees.” 

“We support government policy to go cashless,” he added.

“We believe it will stem the spread of the virus even as we keep transportation and mobility open and efficient.” 

The public can now avail of  free RFID stickers at SMC’s toll plazas. “There are no requirements, so it will be very quick and easy.” 

Todate, the Skyway has 130 Electronic Toll Collection (ETC)-capable lanes. At SLEX, 134 lanes are ETC-capable. All 36 lanes at the NAIAX and 58 lanes at STAR are already ETC capable. The TPLEX has 37 ETC lanes being upgraded to 52.

Toll tellers affected by lane automation will be reassigned to other areas of the tollways, including the new Skyway Stage 3 and the SMC Tollways’ RFID department.

“While this transition is necessary to help fight the spread of the virus, the welfare of our employees remains a priority for us, especially at this critical time,” the SMC president underscored.

“Our employees will not be displaced. Instead, we will find postings for them that are suited to their skills and competency.” 

SMC has introduced a scheme called “RFID To Go” where the sticker can be installed at the lanes with a minimum P200 load for Class 1 vehicles, and an amount equivalent to farthest toll for Class 2 and 3 vehicles.

As for MPTC, groupwide RFID sticker installation campaign is on stream.

“Our groupwide RFID roll out is on track and we will be ready to implement contactless toll payments consistent with the timeline,” Franco noted.

“The MPTC tollway group will now accelerate all preparations to fully implement all-RFID transactions in our toll plazas.”

Roberto V. Bontia, concurrently heading CAVITEX and CALAX and head of MPTC’s RFID 100 Task Force, outlined MPTC’s preparations into four key elements: (1) Infrastructure Readiness, (2) Operational and Visibility Improvements, (3) Motorist Assistance, and (4) Manpower Re-equipping and Retooling.

The MPTC tollways are technically ready to shift from manual toll collection to full RFID-enabled system, Bontia confirmed.

Moreover, MPTC assures that any RFID sticker installed by its provider Easytrip Corporation, will be compatible throughout the MPTC network of expressways hence, a better customer experience overall.

The operator has also improved RFID signages to help direct motorists during the transition.  

Likewise, the RFID stickers are available to online and in 24×7 onsite installation sites, to ensure that they are expressway-ready. 

“Getting the free RFID sticker online thru Shopee, and installing it yourself, is the truly contactless and cashless way,” Bontia remarked.

For onsite options, more installation sites have been made available.  In addition  MPTC made arrangements for specialized groups such as trucking groups, public utility vehicles, homeowners’ associations and local government-based commuters.