Senators call for suspension of cashless transactions at expressways

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 14) — The Senate is calling for the suspension of the implementation of cashless transactions at expressways until a better program is developed to address the faulty system.

In a session on Monday, senators adopted Senate Resolution No. 596 urging the Department of Transportation to suspend the implementation of Department Order No. 2020-012 that mandates the use of a cashless system in toll expressways to lessen the risk of transmitting COVID-19 and to ensure a more efficient traffic flow.

“Our constituents have suffered enough during this pandemic,” Senator Grace Poe, the sponsor of the resolution, said. “Traffic jams and toll booth problems should be the least of their concerns.”

The resolution, which was signed by fifteen senators, stated some of the issues that motorists faced after the implementation of the system, including the failure of scanners to read the RFID stickers and delays in the reloading system. These glitches caused traffic congestion instead of a seamless travel for motorists, it added.

Aside from solving these immediate concerns, the resolution also urges the DOTr to allow cash-based transactions for infrequent and first-time users; remove penalties for insufficient cash balance; impose a deadline on interoperability first before cashless transaction is rolled out; and creation of a policy for dormant accounts.

The cashless transaction system was fully implemented this month. But it caused more problems than the concerns it was trying to solve, prompting Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian to suspend the business permit of the North Luzon Expressway operator in the city's jurisdiction last week.

Despite a meeting on Monday, city officials still decided to keep the suspension until the operator is able to fix the glitches in the RFID system.