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

Marje Pelayo   •   December 9, 2020   •   617

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)

PITX to serve as COVID-19 vax site for 5 days

Maris Federez   •   January 24, 2022


MANILA, Philippines — The Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) opens its doors Monday (January 24) to serve as a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination site until Friday.

The PITX management will give priority to transport workers and passengers who will avail of the program for their first, second, or booster dose.

This is part of the vaccination drive of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) that seeks to provide and ensure safe trips as the country implements the ‘no vaccination-no ride’ policy.

The site is expected to provide service to up to 500 walk-in individuals each day from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon.

Acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said this will help in making vaccination sites accessible to the public and encourage transport workers and passengers to get vaccinated, adding that the same project will be launched in other government transport facilities.

“Sa mga susunod na araw din ay ilulunsad ng DOTr ang vaccination sites sa mga istasyon ng tren, pantalan, at maging sa tollways,” he said.

DOTr Usec. For Administrative Service Atty. Artemio Tuazon Jr. confirmed the said government plan.

“Pinag-utos po rin ni Secretary Tugade na magbukas na rin po kami ng mga vaccination areas sa mga puerto, sa airport po, sa mga terminal ng mga iba pa pong terminal ng pampublikong sasakyan, sa atin pong mga stasyon ng tren at pati na rin po sa ating mga expressways po ay hahanap po kami ng lugar at magbubukas na rin po kami ng vaccination centers,” Tuazon said.

The Department, he said, is now coordinating with the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) concerning the installation of vaccination stations on toll roads.

In a message sent to UNTV News and Rescue, TRB spokesperson Julius Corpus said they have brought the matter to the toll operators and are now awaiting feedback. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Asher Cadapan, Jr.)

NLEX-SCTEX operator prepares for long weekend holiday

Maris Federez   •   October 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), the operator of the North Luzon Expressway-Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (NLEX-SCTEX), has started preparing for the long weekend holiday.

In a statement, the MPTC said they expect a 10 percent increase in the volume of vehicles that will pass the NLEX-SCTEX starting October 29 to November 2.

The toll operator said they will implement extended working hours for their employees to give more attention to areas that are usually affected by the heavy flow of traffic.

“With traffic growth of 10% anticipated in NLEX-SCTEX, traffic management teams will adopt extended working hours to closely monitor and manage the expected high volume of vehicles in Balintawak, Mindanao, Karuhatan, Bocaue, San Simon, San Fernando, Tarlac, and Tipo,” the MPTC management said.

The MPTC has also put on hold construction and closure activities in several expressway lanes.

As added service, the MPTC will post traffic situations in the expressway through the NLEX social media accounts. Other information may be obtained through the company’s 24/7 hotline number 1-35000. —/mbmf

Motorists warned of one-week drainage works on portion of NLEx in Valenzuela City

Marje Pelayo   •   September 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Expect heavy traffic flow along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) starting Monday (September 27).

The NLEx management is doing drainage enhancement works along the northbound lane of the expressway specifically in Valenzuela City area.

Specifically, a 200-meter portion of the rightmost lane of NLEx Valenzuela area will be closed to motorists.

Warning signs are installed to guide the public of the ongoing maintenance works for safety.

The NLEx management said maintenance works will last until Saturday (October 2).


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