Senator Win Gatchalian urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and toll operators to address the traffic jams along expressways brought about by those queuing for the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) sticker installation.
Gatchalian recommended the setting up of additional installation sites to accommodate all motorists enrolling for the electronic toll collection (ETC) system, preventing traffic buildup.
The senator took notice of the growing public frustration over the long lines on expressways after some regular toll lanes were converted into RFID installation lanes following the implementation of the cashless and contactless transaction in toll plazas effective December 1.
Gatchalian also took note of reports on defective RFID sensors.
In the last couple of days, commuters coming back to Valenzuela City had to endure at least three hours of traffic just to get through the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) interchange as motorists get stuck at the toll booths because the RFID sensor has been consistently malfunctioning and this has exacerbated the traffic build up.
“It’s obviously the lookout of the toll operators to ensure that the RFID sensors are working and should be able to read each and every car sticker that passes through it because otherwise, what’s the use of this kind of technology if it does not serve its purpose?” Gatchalian, Vice Chairman of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, pointed out.
“I see the need for a cashless toll collections system at the expressways especially at this time when we have yet to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). But we cannot just sit back and allow motorists to be stuck in traffic. Time wasted cannot be regained,” the senator emphasized.
Studies showed, Gatchalian said, that billions of pesos are lost due to traffic congestion. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in its 2017 survey said that the traffic problem in Metro Manila has cost P3.5 billion in lost opportunities per day and it is projected to amount to P5.4 billion daily by 2035 if no interventions are made.
He likewise pressed for an enhanced information campaign on matters concerning the installation of electronic tags as public confusion adds up to the traffic situation.
While the DOTr had said that the implementation of the 100% cashless transaction started on December 1, the installation of RFID stickers will continue beyond the said date.
“These cashless/contactless transactions are aimed at easing the passage of motorists by sparing them from the heavy traffic especially during rush hours. In the meantime, however, something needs to be done to help the motorists cope in this transition period,” Gatchalian said.