Driving along NLEX, SCTEX, and CAVITEX could be faster and more seamless... if you have RFID.
With all (or most) toll roads in the country set to switch to cashless transactions via RFID, Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), the concessionaire that operates NLEX, SCTEX, and CAVITEX, has revealed that within 2 to 3 years, toll booths will no longer be necessary along expressways.
MPTC plans to make this a reality through "open-road tolling" (ORT). Instead of having toll booths/toll plazas, the open-road tolling system will make use of gantries that can scan and tag vehicles as they pass by. They will be positioned on key segments of an expressway in order to determine a motorist's toll fee, depending on where they entered/exited. This new system is actually similar to what Taiwan and the US currently use.
The new toll collection system will also be backed up by a full-blown command center that can settle and manage accounts. This will also include partnerships from merchants outside of MPTC tollways to make RFID account management for tollway users seamless.
Besides having RFID sensors in place, the gantries will also be equipped with video cameras that can recognize and record plate numbers. The system can then be linked with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for conducting contactless apprehension of traffic violators within the expressways. Once a camera spots a violator, it will take their picture, get their vehicle details from the RFID, and send an electronic report to the LTO/LTFRB for citation.
MPTC claims that with the new system, it will render toll booths obsolete. This will allow them to remove the structures and make more room for vehicles using the expressways. The new ORT system is targeted to go online within the next 2 to 3 years.
But in order for the system to be truly seamless, MPTC plans to make it fully interoperable with other tollway operator's systems. Currently, AutoSweep RFIDs are compatible with MPTC scanners since 2018 – specifically on NLEX, SCTEX, and CAVITEX. Should the new system be online in the next few years, a simple migration of the system could be all that is needed to make it work.
Last but not least, all motorists that wish to travel seamlessly between expressways must have an RFID sticker. Those that have yet to get an AutoSweep RFID can do so by checking out this list. They can also order one online and stick it themselves on their personal vehicle.
With all expressways set to switch to cashless transactions by November 2, 2020, MPTC's plan to introduce the open-road tolling system could mean faster travel time and a more efficient way of collecting toll fees. Let's just hope the RFID scanners on this new system will be able to recognize RFIDs faster.