Long lines, wait times greet motorists on Day 1 of cashless toll collection

Today is the first day of the full implementation of cashless transactions in expressways. Starting Dec. 1, only radio-frequency identification (RFID) transactions will be accepted at the tollgates.

But because many still failed to secure an RFID tag — due to the immense volume of applicants and limited slots in the online appointment system — hundreds of vehicles formed long lines at the toll plazas Monday morning as motorists rush to avail of the mass installation service by toll operators.

Heavy traffic, both northbound and southbound

At the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), live CCTV feeds showed heavy traffic buildup in the entry points of Balintawak, Mindanao Ave. and Karuhatan as vehicle owners crowd toll plazas where they can have radio frequency identification (RFID) tags installed.

Meanwhile, at the South, the same situation unfolded at the Manila-Cavite Expressway (CaviteX). Live reports from ABS-CBN News showed slow-moving traffic flow at Las Piñas Toll plaza.

Under Department Order No. 2020-012 dated Aug. 13, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) gave toll operators until Nov. 2 to fully migrate to a cashless toll collection systems in an effort to avoid person-to-person contact via exchange of physical cash at toll plazas. The deadline was further adjusted to Dec. 1 due to public clamor asking for more time to get RFIDs.

To address the sudden spike in the demand, toll operators have ramped up installation procedures at all tollgates.

Installation continues during transition

Beginning Dec. 1, 2020 until Jan. 11, 2021 (transition phase), all lanes will be converted into RFID stickering lanes, each equipped with installation sites or tents near the tollbooth area. Toll personnel will assist and guide motorists across the entire installation process. All the toll lanes/booths will install RFIDs on vehicles, 24/7.

In a virtual presser last week, Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) executive director Abraham Sales mentioned that toll operators have already installed 3.2 million RFID stickers to vehicles, with almost 800 toll gates ready for RFID use. Toll operators can install up to 30,000 RFIDs per day.

Installation of RFID stickers will continue even after Jan. 11, especially for first-time toll users and newly acquired vehicles. For those living in the provinces or don’t pass on tollways often, the RFID tag will be installed on their vehicle once they pass through the tollgate.

There will be no apprehensions for those without RFIDs during this six-week transition phase but after Jan. 11, the RFID-only policy will be strictly enforced.

Car owners entering tollways without RFIDs will be ticketed and given the appropriate penalty or fine. Depending if there are other vehicles in line and waiting behind the erring motorist, the violation can either be Disregarding Traffic Sign or Obstruction.

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