MANILA –– The Department of Transportation (DOTr) urged lawmakers Thursday to require radio-frequency identification or RFID for vehicles to make toll collection across various tollway systems seamless.
Transportation Undersecretary Steve Pastor made the pitch as part of the agency's recommendations to the House transportation committee which began deliberations on a bill that seeks to mandate the toll operators of all major expressways in Mega Manila to establish and utilize RFID.
"To further encourage RFID registration of motorists, we suggest to include a provision requiring RFID registration for motor vehicles yet to be sold or upon issuance of the certificate of registration and also as a requirement for renewal of motor vehicle registration," Pastor told the panel.
The agency sought flexibility in adopting toll collection systems that may evolve in the future.
"In the advent of recent technological advancements in toll collection systems, we respectfully suggest expanding the scope of the proposed bill not only to specific RFID systems but to the possibility of introducing other toll collection technology in the future," Pastor said.
"The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), for its part, suggests inclusion of installation and integration of the automatic license plate recognition or ALPR system to improve RFID reading capabilities," he added.
The DOTR also suggested "expanding the coverage to cover nationwide enforceability than being specific to ETC systems in Metro Manila and existing tollways," Pastor said.
The panel also deliberated on a House resolution that urges the DOTr and its attached agencies to fast-track the implementation of the Phase 2 and 3 of the Toll Interoperability Project.
Under the project that began in 2017, road companies are required to make adjustments in their systems to enable interoperability and an integrated toll collection.
The project's first phase alone took 14 months to complete and the COVID-19 pandemic later delayed its implementation, the Toll Regulatory Board said.
"There were delays admittedly by the concessionaires and that of the TRB gawa po ng una, yung pandemya. Pangalawa po, I think there were incompatibility issues with regard to the sticker of the MPT (Metro Pacific Tollways, which operates the Easy Trip brand) para po mabasa yung system ng San Miguel tollways," said Pastor, who sits as alternate chairman of the TRB in behalf of the transportation department.
(There were delays admittedly by the concessionaires and that of the TRB because of first, the pandemic. Second, I think there were incompatibility issues with regard to the sticker of the MPT so that it could be read by the San Miguel tollways system.)
The technical issues were later resolved, he said.
At least 19,941 Autosweep subscribers have enrolled to the Easytrip Systems as of Nov. 1, John Patrick Ojano of the TRB said.
"Long overdue na talaga yung implementation. The MOA was signed way back 2017. Five years na ang lumipas until now nasa phase 1 pa rin sila." Caloocan Third District Rep. Dean Asistio told media in an interview.
(The implementation is really long overdue... Five years has passed and they're still in phase 1.)