Senator Nancy Binay on Tuesday echoed the appeal of San Miguel Corp. President Ramon Ang for the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to extend the deadline for mandatory cashless transactions in toll expressways to at least the end of February 2021.
Binay also backed Ang’s call allowing toll operators to be allowed to retain a few cash lanes to prevent traffic in toll plazas.
“I think wala namang mawawala (there’s nothing wrong) if the deadline is extended, so long as we get a commitment from our toll operators that while the cashless system is not fully operational health protocols will be strictly implemented,” Binay said.
The DOTr deadline for toll operators to fully implement cashless transactions is today, December 1. It was initially set on November 2.
The move to automate the payment scheme was imposed to limit human contact and the spread of COVID-19.
But according to Ang, there remain long lines at sticker installation sites, and that there has been a surge in last-minute applications on the days leading to the deadline.
The DOTr earlier clarified that motorists who traverse toll ways without RFID stickers will not be apprehended until January 11, 2021.
But Binay argued that it would still be difficult for most motorists to comply have their stickers installed due to the number of holidays in December and early January.
“Mayroon bang study ang DOTr kaya nila napili ang date ng deadline? Kasi kung wala naman, that means the deadline is arbitrary. So if it is for valid reasons, why not extend?” the senator pointed out.
She also noted it would still be difficult for most motorists to comply and have their stickers installed due to the number of holidays in December and early January.
“A deadline extension would be a better alternative to traffic bottlenecks because of the long queues…speed isn’t the only consideration in measure a project’s success.
“There’s no point in gunning for a set date only to fail. Mas mahalaga na mailatag na siya nang maayos ang sistema at ma-accommodate natin ang mga motorist na siya namang makikinabang sa proyektong ito,” she said.
The senator also urged the DOTr to consider allowing the continued operation of dedicated cash lanes so that motorists who do not ply the expressways regularly are not needlessly inconvenienced.
“Hindi naman natin maiiwasan na may mga one-time users ng mga expressway natin, lalo na yung mga galing ng probinsya like Samar, Bicol, Calabarzon, Mindoro, Baguio at ibang motoristang galing sa malalayo (We can’t avoid the fact there are one-time users in our expressways, especially those who come from the provinces like Samar, Bicol, Calabarzon, Mindoro, Baguio and other motorists who come from far places),” she said.
“It would be unfair to burden them with having to register for RFIDs for a single journey,” she stressed.