Tollway operators told to keep cash payment lane despite RFID shift

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 27) — A lawmaker appealed to toll road operators to further postpone the deadline for cashless payments, insisting the holidays would be the worst time to implement a major shift for expressways.

Quezon City 2nd District Representative Precious Hipolito-Castelo on Friday said operators of the North and South Luzon Expressways and connecting toll roads should still provide an option for vehicle owners to pass through even without the radio-frequency identification or RFID tags for e-payments.

"Hindi pa po fully ready ang taumbayan... With the Christmas season coming up, just imagine –– hindi lang 'yung mga regular (cars) ang dumadaan [The people are not fully ready for this... With the Christmas season coming up, just imagine the volume of cars that will be passing through]," Castelo told CNN Philippines' The Exchange.

She rejected the idea of allowing people to apply and install RFID stickers by the toll gates, saying it would case massive road congestion.

"What we're trying to suggest is okay for them to implement the cashless tollway payment, pero manatili po sana na may cash payment lane to accommodate 'yung wala pang sticker [they should keep a cash payment lane to accommodate those without stickers yet]," Castelo said.

Skyway O&M Corporation president and chief executive officer Manuel Bonoan said internal systems were ready to implement cashless toll collection since 2015, but acknowledged the real challenge now is the installation of RFID stickers on cars.

The December 1 deadline is for toll operators to fully roll out cashless transactions, a move meant to limit human contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Bonoan added that RFID installations will continue, noting they have ramped up manpower to get more cars covered.

The Skyway and Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, which operates toll roads in the northern parts of Luzon, said they are ready to roll out cashless collections. The Skyway and SLEX use the Autosweep RFIDs, while the NLEX and other MPTC-owned roads use the EasyTrip RFID system.

On Thursday, the Department of Transportation said cars traversing toll roads will not be apprehended until January 11, 2021. However, DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran said drivers may receive violation tickets if they fall in line on RFID-lanes for causing traffic.