Monday, December 14, 2020

DOTr, TRB Just Did the NLEX, Easytrip’s Job for Them


With all the problems surrounding the Easytrip RFID, both the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) stepped in on behalf of the motoring public.

In a statement, both the DOTr and the TRB outlined what the problems are. They also did something that the management of Easytrip hasn’t been able to do: come up with concrete solutions.

Check out their statement in full below:

More than 90 percent of transactions in the country’s toll roads were through radio frequency identification (RFID) sticker use, as a result of the implementation of the cashless transaction since December 1, 2020.

This was the report of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), led by TRB Executive Director (ED) Engr. Abraham Sales, in a virtual press briefing on December 10, 2020, headed by DOTr Road Transport and Infrastructure Assistant Secretary Mark Steven Pastor and other transport officials, including DOTr Road Sector Senior Consultant Engr. Alberto Suansing and TRB Board Member Raymundo Junia. 

In the said briefing, ED Sales noted that based on the AutoSweep and Easytrip daily report, as of December 8, 2020, more than 3.7 million RFID stickers have been installed, compared to 1.4 million when the program just started.

ED Sales added that the improvement in penetration rate since December 1, 2020 showed that the majority of motorists are now using cashless transactions in passing through tollways.

“Nasa 80-90 percent ng payment transactions ay cashless or RFID. Ang ibig po sabihin, almost 100 percent na ng mga motoristang dumaraan sa tollways ay nakikipag-cooperate sa paggamit ng RFID,” he emphasized.

The TRB chief also noted that the number of motorists queuing daily for RFID installation is decreasing, from over 34,000 on December 1 to less than 28,000 on December 8, 2020.

“Ang latest na report po sa amin ay 27,906 on that day of December 8. Ang kahulugan po niyan, nakakuha na po [ng RFID] ang karamihan ng expressway users,” TRB ED Sales pointed out.

Meanwhile, ED Sales said that transport secretary Arthur Tugade gave directives to ensure that the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) operator immediately implement various measures to resolve the implementation issues that caused congestion at its toll roads. 

One measure is to remove the “emergency” signages, and convert these toll plaza lanes to either “Cash” or “RFID” lanes. Ambulances, law enforcement vehicles, and other emergency response vehicles will be allowed to pass through any lane.

Additionally, the barriers at the toll plazas should be removed during peak/rush hours to allow fast entry and movement of vehicles. Further study on the removal of barriers was also recommended. RFID and Cash lanes should be positioned in clusters to avoid confusion. 

To reduce queuing, RFID installation sites at toll plazas should be removed. Stickering and reloading will be relocated in gasoline stations, malls, groceries, and other places frequented by motorists. For small tollgates with 2 to 3 lanes, RFID stickering lanes will be removed, and a cash lane maintained.

The toll operator has been instructed to consider increasing RFID sensor wattage from only 3 to 10 watts, within 15 days from December 9.

Further, the Karuhatan toll plaza configuration in Valenzuela (for NLEX) should be re-assessed, and a recommendation be submitted at the soonest time possible.

To help resolve general issues, Secretary Tugade further directed ED Sales to also relay the abovementioned recommended solutions to other toll operators, as well as the following:
  1. Enhance traffic management and customer service assistance at toll plazas and approaches;
  2. Intensify campaign and implementation of replacement of worn-out tags; 
  3. Expedite system’s hardware and software upgrading including data transmission and procurement of good quality RFID stickers; and
  4. Continue and enhance the campaign to inform motorists to maintain sufficient load to avoid loading at the toll plazas.
To recall, the tollway operators were given until November 2, 2020 to implement cashless transactions at tollways. This was moved to December 1, 2020 to give motorists ample time to have RFID stickers installed. To ensure efficient implementation, the DOTr-TRB set a transition period until January 11, 2021, with no fines and penalties to be imposed on motorists without vehicle RFID. Further, RFID installation will continue beyond January 11 for non-frequent tollway users. Toll load has no validity expiration.

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