The Department of Transportation's (DOTr) plan to make cashless transactions mandatory across all toll roads and expressways has gone off to a bad start. From faulty RFID scanners, heavy traffic caused by long lines at toll plazas, limited daily RFID stickers, and rushed implementation, motorists certainly are pointing fingers at the agency.
Yesterday, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade apologized to motorists, as well as to the LGUs that were affected by the traffic congestion and other types of inconveniences.
“Again I express my apologies to the users of the tollways, to the local government for the convenience whatever it cost. Be assured that the cost of the inconvenience is not designed, is not intended,” said Tugade.
The mandatory switch to the cashless transaction was aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 amid the pandemic. However, many motorists found themselves enduring heavy traffic, as well as long lines during the first few days of cashless toll collection in expressways. It even resulted in a toll holiday wherein NLEX was barred from collecting toll fees after Valenzuela City suspended NLEX Corporation's business permits.
It was only yesterday when the City Government of Valenzuela lifted the suspension order after both parties came to an agreement in fixing the RFID mess. These included the return of cash lanes in all toll plazas, open barriers for RFID lanes from 5:00 AM – 10:01 PM daily, and upgrading the RFID system on or before January 30, 2021.
“Alam ko ho na nakakabulahaw dahil sa mga nangyari. Nahihiya po ako sa Valenzuela, sa mga local govenrment, sa mga nagmamaneho,” added Tugade.
[I know it is infuriating because of what happened. I am embarrassed by what happened to Valenzuela, to the other local governments, as well as to motorists that were affected]
Tugade added that he wants the barriers removed for all RFID lanes – stating that the burden of the glitches should not fall on the motorists using the expressways.
“Sabi ko alisin niyo na lang ‘yan, diretsyo na lang ‘yan. Kasi pagnagkaroon ng glitch pila yan, sagutin niyo na ‘yon kasi that is a problem of the sytem. If it is a problem of the system why should you make the travelers and the public suffer? You bear the cost because that is your system,” added Tugade.
[I told them to remove it, just let them pass. Because when a glitch happens, long lines can form, they should just bear the cost of the glitch if a problem occurs in the system. If it is a problem of the system why should you make the travelers and the public suffer? You bear the cost because that is your system]
In order to avoid further glitches, the Transportation Secretary said that they are working with other agencies to make the RFID interoperability available to all motorists in the future.
“Be assured that your Department of Transportation, together with the TRB, the LTO, and the LTFRB is trying its utmost best to achieve that interoperability,” Tugade said.
Just last week, AutoSweep and EasyTrip announced that they will begin testing the interoperability of RFIDs. The test will be conducted for 14 consecutive days and will involve 45 vehicles from various classifications. Once interoperability is achieved, vehicles can use one RFID but have two separate accounts for either AutoSweep and EasyTrip.