The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) has proposed solutions to enhance cashless transactions in toll expressways to address the operational issues in the shift to a radio frequency identification (RFID) system.
In a virtual briefing on Thursday, TRB Executive Director Abraham Sales said there is now an improvement in the implementation of the contactless payment scheme.
“In so far as the system is concerned, the operators are actually making improvements. There are already improvements brought about by the implementation of the program,” Sales emphasized.
Toll operators are currently under fire due to monstrous traffic jams in toll plazas caused by glitches in the system as reported by tollway users.
The TRB has proposed solutions for toll operators to further improve cashless transactions in tollways such as the relocation of RFID installation and reloading stations which the agency said are among the factors that are causing congestion in toll plazas.
“Napansin namin na medyo nagkaroon ng traffic sa mga plaza kung saan ini-implement ang installation at reloading ng RFID. So, nagkaroon ng directive that the operator should relocate sa hindi masyadong ma-traffic na plaza,” Sales explained.
(We noticed a traffic build-up at toll plazas where there are RFID installation and reloading. So we directed the operator to relocate it on plazas where there are less traffic.)
Toll operators were also directed to enhance its traffic management at toll plazas and approaches, as well as its customer service assistance, and to utilize emergency lanes as transaction lanes especially during peak hours.
According to Sales, operators should also intensify its campaign and implementation of worn-out tags replacement, upgrade its system, and procure good quality RFID stickers.
Sales explained that some of the complaints they have received are RFID tags that cannot be read at toll plazas as it is already worn-out, causing traffic build-up in the area.
The TRB chief also instructed toll operators, particularly the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) which is managing NLEX, to reconfigure its usually congested toll plazas including those at Karuhatan and Mindanao Avenue.
“We are asking them to submit their recommendation on how they will reconfigure these toll plazas. Medyo na-underestimate ang pagpasok ng mga sasakyan, aggravated by RFID stickering lanes, kaya nagkakaroon ng pila,” he added.
(It seems that they have underestimated the number of vehicles that will enter the plaza which was also aggravated by RFID stickering lanes, resulting in longer queues.)
Lastly, Sales said toll operators should further enhance its information campaign for motorists to maintain sufficient loads when passing through tollways for faster transaction and travel time.
As of December 8, a total of 3,712,701 RFID tags have been installed by toll operators MPTC and San Miguel Corporation (SMC). The Department of Transportation (DOTr) earlier said that operators will continue to issue stickers even after the transition period ends on January 11, to accommodate first-time toll users and those with newly acquired vehicles.
EasyTrip tags are issued by the MPTC for NLEX, SCTEX, CAVITEX, C5 Link, and CALAX, while the AutoSweep are for SMC-operated tollways namely STAR, SLEX, Skyway System, NAIA Expressway, and TPLEX.
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 the COVID-19 through limited physical contact, as well as to avoid traffic congestion in toll plazas.
Under the order, the TRB, an attached agency of the DOTr, 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.