Opposing ‘silly’ RFID system, Sotto suggests replication of automated San Francisco Bay Bridge tolls

December 11, 2020 - 7:22 PM
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A photo of the traffic situation at NLEX at night from Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian's Facebook page

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Friday said the implementation of the Radio-frequency identification (RFID) system is a “bad idea” amid the issues hounding the cashless toll collection system.

Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian last Monday suspended  the business permit or the collecting power of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Corp. for failure to comply with the local government’s demands to improve its services.

Gatchalian earlier called the NLEX management out on social media over the allegedly faulty RFID installation drive that worsened the traffic condition in the city.

He used drones to capture photos of the traffic jam along the thoroughfare as proofs and shared them online.

Sotto also dipped his toes in the issue and opposed the RFID system.

“RFID to all is really a bad idea! Silly, to say the least!” he said.  

In separate tweet, Sotto instead gave a suggestion to make cashless tollgates happen.

“You want cashless toll gates? Replicate the San Francisco tolls. No barrier, all automated charges!” he said. 

Based on the tolling information on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, it follows an electronic toll collection.

“Payment of tolls on the state-owned toll bridges can be made electronically using FasTrak,” it said.

The toll authority of Bay Bridge also collects tolls west-bound only.

In an update on Friday, Gatchalian informed his constituents that the Valenzuela city government will meet with representatives of NLEX on December 14.

This forum will also be live-streamed on his Facebook page.

“For the public’s information. We’ll hear them out and see what their solutions are….will do FB live so that Valenzuelanos can keep tuned,” he said.

Mayors of the municipalities of Bulacan also signed a manifesto that supported Gatchalian’s move to hold NLEX accountable.

On Thursday, NLEX assured the LGU that it is working to provide “clear and concrete solutions” to the concerns stated in the letter the Valenzuela city government sent to them.

It also cited the lifting of the truck ban and the number coding scheme as among the reasons that contributed to the heavy traffic, aside from the installation of RFID stickers.

Robin Ignacio of the NLEX Traffic Operations Center early this week said that the build-up of vehicular lines is caused by motorists installing RFID stickers on their cars, as well as those lining up with no load.

READ: ‘System failure’: RFID users refute NLEX official’s remark on toll traffic attributed to low balance

“We aim to ensure a more hassle-free implementation of the cashless toll payment system and to give the best possible travel experience to our customers,” NLEX said.

RFID complaints

Motorists have been required to install RFID stickers from the toll providers Easy Trip and Autosweep as part of the transport agency’s goal to go cashless in all modes of transport.

READ: Easytrip vs Autosweep: Things to know about the new cashless systems in toll expressways

The deadline for the installation had since been moved from December 1 and extended it until January 2021.

However, during the first day of implementation on December 1, the main highway that traverses through Valenzuela City got clogged due to the number of vehicles applying for stickers at the toll gates.

Last December 4, Gatchalian shared that he sent a letter to NLEX Chief Operating Officer Mr. Raul Ignacio to convey these issues surrounding the RFID stickers and their installation.

When the issues were not yet resolved, the mayor ordered the suspension of their business permit when the issues continued to prevail and declared a toll holiday wherein motorists don’t have to pay toll fees in the meantime.

However, some motorists aired grievances on still being charged despite the toll holiday.

Motorist Kimberly Maat, in particular, decried that she received a bill at a time when their vehicle was parked at their house.

Maat stated that she already called Easy Trip’s customer services and received no response.

“Paki-explain kung paano kami nagkaroon ng transaction yesterday at 9:37 AM sa Mamplasan exit pero at that same exact time naka-park yung sasakyan namin dito sa bahay?” she said.

 

The official account of Valenzuela City later instructed those who received charges to message the LGU for rebate processing.

Last Thursday, Gatchalian shared NLEX’s response to his office and stated that the latter addressed the “accidental” charges this week.

However, he emphasized the need for a dialogue given that he was not satisfied with the details that NLEX provided.