Toll Regulatory Board’s budget under threat if RFID mess continues

Marje Pelayo   •   December 9, 2020   •   321

MANILA, Philippines — The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) is in hot water over the implementation of the RFID system or cashless/contactless toll transactions in major expressways in the country.

Mounting complaints from motorists and local government units prompted the House Committee on Transportation to challenge the agency to resolve the matter as soon as possible or it will block the passage of the toll regulator’s budget. 

Committee Chairman Rep. Edgar Sarmiento said they had laid down their recommendations several months earlier seeing that the TRB had not prepared fully for the implementation of the system especially in the busiest North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) fell on deaf ears.

“Ang Kongreso inaksyunan na ito noong hindi pa nangyayari. Kaya lang walang masyadong nakikinig sa sinasabi natin. Ngayon, nagkakaproblema na tayo [The Congress acted on this matter even before but no one seemed to be listening. Now, we are faced with these problems],” Sarmiento noted.

Sarmiento said their recommendation was to defer the implementation of the cashless toll transactions to January next year while House Speaker Allan Velasco wanted it to be in March.

One suggestion was to place early warning signages that would guide motorists before they approach the RFID lanes while the installation of stickers should have been done in NLEx and not in public roads.

“Ginagawa ang public road as parking area, mali yun! Samantalang ang lapad lapad, ang haba-haba naman ng expressways [Public roads are turned into parking areas, that’s wrong, when they can use the wide space in expressways],” Sarmiento said emphasizing that the TRB should be the one managing its toll operators or expressway concessionaires.

The lawmaker said the TRB should have double-checked that everything was already in its proper place and every detail of the system was addressed as it would affect millions of motorists given that millions of vehicles would be needing the RFID.

The toll regulators should have also consulted concerned government agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as well as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on checking and testing the needed equipment for the RFID because some needed upgrading.

“(There are about) 6.1 million vehicles in National Capital Region (NCR), Regions 3, Regions 4B. Kinompute natin siguro next 2 years hindi pa malalagyan ng stickers [Based on our computation, even in the next two years, not all of them would have their RFID installed],” Sarmiento explained.

For its part, the TRB said they are now having an audit of the procedures that the NLEx applied in relation to the cashless transaction system. The TRB maintained that NLEx was fully prepared for the full implementation of the system.

Siguro masasabi natin na noong maipatupad by December 1 ang complete cashless medyo naglabasan. Mayroon pa palang bagay na dapat talagang asikasuhin, ayusin at agarang tugunan [When the system kicked off on December 1, (unexpected) problems surfaced, things that needed to be addressed, fixed and immediately resolved],” admitted TRB Spokesperson Julius Corpuz.

Having seen the problems that the RFID system is facing, Sarmiento said they might hold the TRB’s budget in the upcoming ratification of the 2021 proposed National Budget or they might ask President Rodrigo Duterte to veto it or not to approve the agency’s fund.

“Hindi na po pinakikinggan ang House of Representatives. Kaya may huli pa po kaming alas sa ratification ng budget [The House of Representatives is being ignored so we are thinking of doing something in the ratification of the budget],” he said.

“Sana makinig naman sa amin ang DOTC. Push back nyo kasi kawawa ang tao [We hope that the Department of Transportation will hear us. Push back (the implementation) because it is the people who suffer],” he noted hoping that the situation will not lead to the government taking over the management of NLEx which is possible to happen if the problem gets worse. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Toll regulators to impose ‘three-strike policy’ for RFID violators

Marje Pelayo   •   February 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) will implement a ‘three-strike’ policy at toll plazas and apprehend motorists with insufficient load in their RFID stickers.

This is prompted by several reports that some motorists are abusing the ‘no apprehension policy’ for vehicles without RFID and continuously ignoring the cashless payment system.

Because of this, all motorists who are repeatedly violating the RFID system by passing through RFID lanes with insufficient load balance will be apprehended the third time they commit the offense.

DPWH targets to open first 5-km of NLEX connector before end of 2021

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) announced on Wednesday (January 20) that it targets to open the 5-kilometer portion of the NLEX Connector by the end of 2021.

The first 5 kilometers of the NLEX Connector links Caloocan Interchange, C3 and España Boulevard in Manila.

“Spanning a total of eight kilometers, the DPWH said the full NLEX Connector will be an all vehicle class elevated expressway that will traverse the C3 Road in Caloocan City pass through Abad Santos, Blumentritt, Dimasalang, España, Magsaysay Boulevard and eventually connect with the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Sta. Mesa in Manila,” the DPWH said.

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said the project aims to ease traffic along EDSA.

The full NLEX Connector that spans 8 kilometers will feature four toll plazas and interchanges from C3 and España.

It is expected to reduce travel time between NLEX and South Luzon Expressway from two hours to just 20 minutes.

The 23-billion project is also seen to provide better access to Manila Ports (North Harbor) and airports (NAIA and Clark).

Kapag natapos itong connector lalong luluwag ang EDSA kasi lahat ng trucks na galing sa port magkakaroon ng option na mag NLEX or mag SLEX (As soon as the connector is completed, EDSA will be decongested as all trucks from the port will have the option to use either the NLEX or SLEX),” he said.

Villar said as they strive to complete the first 5 kilometers, they will also target to complete the NLEX Connector up to Sta. Mesa, Manila before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends. —AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

RFID system in expressways remains suspended ‘until further notice’ — TRB

Marje Pelayo   •   January 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) announced that cashless transactions in expressways will remain suspended indefinitely.

According to TRB Spokesman Julius Corpus, the extension takes effect indefinitely to give toll operators enough time to fix and perfect the implementation of the radio frequency identification system (RFID).

This means all types of vehicles may pass through all expressway gates even without an RFID sticker as motorists may still pay in cash. 

Vehicles without RFID stickers will not be penalized or apprehended during the extended grace period.

Initially, the transition period for cash payments to cashless was until Monday (January 11).

In a way po is that tuloy-tuloy lamang po ang transition period until further notice. Tuloy-tuloy lamang po kahit na noon naipaalam natin sa mga motorista ang transition period ay hanggang January 11 lamang,” explained Corpus.

(In a way our transition period is ongoing until further notice. Though before we have informed the motorists that our transition period ends January 11, it is still ongoing.)

“Ang ating panibagong deriktiba ay ipagpapatuloy natin ang transition period na ito at para sa kapakanan po ng mga motoristang hindi pa nakabitan ng mga RFID stickers,” he concluded.

(Our new directive is that our transition period will continue for the benefit of motorists who still need to get RFID stickers.)

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