In compliance with the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) 100% RFID implementation on all tollways, the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) has revealed that within the next 2 to 3 years, tollbooths may no longer be necessary.
This will be made possible by what they call “open road tolling”. Together with representatives from the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) and the DOTr, MPTC outlined their future programs for the full implementation of 100% RFID across the tollways that they operate.
MPTC is the concessionaire that operates the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), and the Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEx).
Of course, this can't be done right away. There are several steps required before its full implementation.
The first step requires going 100% cashless. By now you're well aware of the push to go fully cashless by November this year. Rather than cash, vehicles heading to any of MPTC's tollways must be equipped with an RFID payment system. This is in accordance with Department Order 2020-012, which was signed on August 13, 2020, by DOTr secretary, Arthur Tugade.
The next step is to ensure that all RFIDs in all vehicles are recognized.
The second phase involves the full inter-operability of the MPTC RFID system and other tollways operator’s system. If implemented properly, in a nutshell, MPTC’s Easytrip RFID system could be used in any of the San Miguel Corporation (SMC)-operated tollways and vice versa.
Currently, only SMC’s Autosweep RFID system can be used in MPTC’s tollways, but only after the vehicle owner follows several steps that require registration online plus activation at select Easytrip customer service booths on tollways.
Full inter-operability, according to MPTC, can be completed within the next 12 to 16 months. This will involve the revision of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that was signed back in 2016, integration of toll systems and its structures, and the creation of a single clearinghouse that will be operated by both MPTC and SMC.
Now, this is the interesting part: Open Road Tolling. Once MPTC tollways become 100% cashless, there will be no need to have tollbooths to accept cash transactions.
To put it simply, RFID sensors will be mounted along the highway itself via gantries (bridge-like overhead structures where traffic signs are installed), tagging vehicles as they pass by. These will be positioned along key segments to determine the toll fee.
This system, according to MPTC, will render toll booths obsolete and all toll collection related structures can be removed. This system is targeted to go online within the next 2 to 3 years.
This system will be backed by a full-blown command center for toll settlement and account management. This will also include partnerships with merchants outside of MPTC tollways to make RFID account management for tollway users seamless.
The MPTC also plans to link this system with the IT systems of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for their contactless apprehension of traffic violators within the expressways.
It's not just RFID sensors. These gantries will also have video cameras which can recognize and record plate numbers. Once Phase 3 is put into place and interconnected with the LTO, we may no longer see motorists or vloggers who do speed runs along NLEx, SCTEx, or Cavitex.
Once the camera sees them, it will take their picture, get their vehicle details from the RFID, and send an electronic report to the LTO for citation.