Evaluation of Day 1 of cashless toll yields glitches

Published December 3, 2020, 5:00 AM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

Day one of the 100 percent cashless toll implementation on Tuesday, December 1, had the usual glitches, coupled with traffic surges on the first workday of the week after a long weekend.

And tollway concessionaires had more congestion on their gates, not because motorists didn’t have Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) stickers, but because they don’t have enough load to pay the toll on their electronic wallets.

Nevertheless, both the government and the private toll operators look forward to a smoother transition in the coming days.

“Yesterday (Dec 1)’s traffic surge was unusual, with people coming back to Manila after a 3-day weekend,” Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) Executive Director Abraham Sales told reporters in today’s (Dec. 2) virtual presser. “The situation can improve in the coming days.”

On the average, 438,000 vehicles per day pass through the North and South toll roads of the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC).

The North expressways account for 70 per cent of the traffic and the South, for 30 per cent, according to MPTC Chief Communication Officer Romulo Quimbo Jr.

Notably, 83 per cent of motorists who used the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) this December 1 were able to do cashless transactions, according to NLEX Corporation Assistant Vice President for Operations Management Northwesterly Dionisio.

Only 11,000 motorists had their RFID stickers installed yesterday. Motorists without RFIDs totalled 35,000.

Actually, the major problem for many motorists was not the absence of RFIDs but the fact that they do not have enough load in their electronic wallets to pay for the toll, she reiterated.

For the South expressways – Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) C5 South Link and CALAX, 99 per cent of motorists used RFIDs, with the 1 per cent mostly toll-exempt vehicles, such as police cars, according to MPT South Management Corporation Assistant Vice President for Operations Management Ella Francisco.

However, 30 per cent of the motorists have insufficient load balance in their e-wallets, resulting in queuing at the toll gates, she pointed out.

Significantly, she reported that MPT South had 55,000 cash transactions before the December 1 deadline. However, on December 1, they had zero cash transactions. All were cashless.

So far, MPT South installed 6,486 RFIDs yesterday and expects to install more throughout this week although, “Many had their stickers before December 1,” Francisco observed.

For the Ayala-MCX, which averages 340,000 vehicles daily, 79 per cent already have RFIDs, says Ayala-MCX Operations Manager Joseph Canlas.

For the South tollways, including the Skyway and NAIAX, 85 per cent of motorists already used RFIDs yesterday, as opposed to just 43 per cent before the deadline.

Transactions using RFIDs have very significantly reduced cash transactions, confirmed Manila Toll Expressway Systems and Star Tollway Corporation President and CEO Manuel Bonoan.