Less than a week before the full implementation of contactless transactions in tollways, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said there is no need for motorists to panic if they have yet to install RFID tags on their vehicles.
According to the DOTr, the installation of RFID stickers will continue beyond the initial December 1 deadline, especially for first-time toll users and those with newly acquired vehicles.
The deadline, DOTr explained, was set for toll operators to comply with its Department Order No. 2020-12 which mandated the implementation of full cashless toll collections at the expressways and major toll roads. This is part of the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 through limited physical contact and to avoid traffic congestion in toll plazas.
In a virtual briefing on Wednesday, Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) Executive Director Abraham Sales said they are “100% ready” to implement the system with the support and full cooperation of toll operators Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) and San Miguel Corporation (SMC).
“We have observed that toll plazas are ready. Almost 800 toll lanes are ready, except for a few, to accommodate contactless transactions via the RFID,” he said.
RFID sticker installation to continue
Sales mentioned that more than 3.2 million RFID tags have been installed on vehicles and toll operators would continue to install with a capacity of at least 30,000 stickers in a day.
Both the MPTC and SMC assured that they have also opened an online appointment system for RFID installation and additional stickering lanes on toll plazas to accommodate more motorists.
MPTC operates NLEX, SCTEX, CAVITEX, C5 Link, and CALAX, while the SMC manages STAR, SLEX, Skyway System, NAIA Expressway, and TPLEX.
Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran added that all toll lanes may also be converted into RFID stickering lanes starting December 1, if needed, which means that motorists can have their RFID tags installed at the toll gate or installation sites before or after the toll plazas.
“Starting December 1 until January 11, installation of RFID at all toll lanes or booths near toll gates will be 24/7,” Libiran said during the press conference.
Meanwhile, Libiran assured that there will be no apprehension of motorists without RFID stickers during the transition period from December 1, 2020 to January 11, 2021
However, if a motorist insists on passing through an “RFID only” lane without a sticker, he or she may be cited for Disregarding Traffic Sign or Obstruction, depending on the disruption caused to other motorists.
“After the transition period ends on January 11, 2021, toll operators will assign specific RFID stickering lanes or RFID installation sites near the toll booth where motorists can have the RFID installed on their vehicles,” she added.
Libiran reiterated 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.
The DOTr official said this project will be implemented in three phases — the first of which is the shift to 100% 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 maintaining only one wallet for toll payments.