DOTr: Cashless toll payments should not be delayed

Published November 6, 2020, 10:32 AM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The implementation of the contactless payment scheme in tollways should not be delayed amid the pandemic as it aims to further curb the spread of COVID-19 in the transport sector, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said.


In a statement, the DOTr and its attached agency, the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), said the system has already been “long overdue” and its implementation should not wait for the interoperability of the toll systems.

“Any delay in its implementation amid the COVID-19 pandemic will only make motorists, as well as the personnel manning the toll plazas, vulnerable to unwanted and unnecessary physical contact, and hence, exposure to the deadly coronavirus,” the DOTr said.

Valenzuela 1st District Rep. Weslie Gatchalian urged the DOTr on Wednesday to defer the implementation of the new payment scheme until next year or when the RFID systems of the two toll operators had become interoperable.

Gatchalian noted that it would be “burdensome” and “confusing” for motorists, especially for those who rarely use the expressways, to get and use two different RFID tags — the Easytrip and Autosweep.

Easytrip tags are issued by the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation for NLEX, SCTEX, CAVITEX, C5 Link, and CALAX, while the Autosweep are for San Miguel Corporation (SMC)-operated tollways namely STAR, SLEX, Skyway System, NAIA Expressway, and TPLEX.

The DOTr had earlier explained that the mandate of a cashless toll collection and the integration of RFID systems are part of its “Toll Interoperability” project which the Department has been pushing since 2017.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran said this project will be implemented in three phases — the first of which is the shift to 100 percent cashless and contactless toll payments which is currently being enforced.

The second phase involves the use of two RFID wallets, which will make a single RFID sticker readable by sensors at different toll roads, while Phase 3 aims for the use of just one RFID sticker for all toll expressways, and maintain only one wallet for toll payments. 

With the issue of interoperability aside, the DOTr argued that it has further extended the deadline for the mandatory implementation of cashless toll collections to December 1 to provide motorists using the expressway ample time to have their vehicles equipped with the needed RFID stickers.

“Both RFID tags are free of charge and only the load will be paid by motorists. Hence, there is no real or added financial burden for motorists,” the DOTr pointed out.

“Having both RFIDs is also not confusing since the physical appearance of the tags are contrastingly different,” it explained.

The Department also emphasized that instead of suspending the program due to issues of limited RFID installation sites, the solution to take is for toll operators to increase the number of installation booths and manpower in strategic places. 

“Currently, the DOTr, through the TRB, continues to engage and coordinate with private toll operators to thresh out issues, undertake the necessary operational measures, and present solutions, in order to fully realize the interoperability project,” it said.

“Amid a raging pandemic, public health and safety cannot take the back seat in favor of convenience,” the Department added.

The DOTr issued in August Department Order 2020-012 which required toll operators to fully implement cashless toll collections at the expressways and major toll roads in line with the government’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 through limited physical contact, as well as to avoid traffic congestion in toll plazas.

Under the order, the TRB was tasked to ensure that operators install electronic tags or other cashless systems for all motorists and motor vehicles using the expressways and transact only using a cashless mode of payment.