Tugade told: Explain RFID mess

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    SENATORS want Secretary Arthur Tugade to clarify how the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) ended up in a mess, causing horrendous traffic in expressways and leaving motorists frustrated
    Sen. Grace Poe, chairwoman of the Senate committee on public services, echoed the suggestion of Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian that the DOTr temporarily suspend the implementation of its cashless toll collection system while the agency and private toll operators work out solutions to address the issues that have come up relating to the unclear and ill-prepared regulations of the program.

    Poe said Tugade also owes senators an explanation for his agency’s rushed order to expressway operators to start the implementation of the cashless toll collection beginning this month despite their obvious unpreparedness for it.

    The senator has filed a resolution asking the DOTr to revisit the order. A similar resolution was filed by Gatchalian last week.

    Poe said that the DOTr’s order for a 100-percent cashless transaction came out only in August but it already mandated full implementation by November. This was extended to December but the apparent lack of preparation still resulted in long lines in RFID sticker installation sites and defective RFID readers which created monstrous traffic choke points.

    “We are asking the DOTr to suspend the full implementation of the 100-percent cashless transaction it compelled toll operators to do. The system isn’t completely ready,” Poe said.

    Poe said the Senate will also look into the P500-minimum load requirement for the stickers, which she said “is a big amount for some, especially if the toll they need to pay is just less than P100. That minimum load is even higher than the minimum wage.”

    Valenzuela City has suspended the business permit of NLEX Corp. because of the traffic caused by its poor RFID system.

    NLEX Corp. yesterday said it has prepared an action plan to resolve the issues raised by motorists and the Valenzuela City government against it.

    After the its business permit was cancelled by the Valenzuela City government, NLEX said it has already come up with clear and concrete solutions to the issues raised by motorists, among them that the stickers easily wear out, sensors that cannot promptly read RFID stickers, and missing loads.

    NLEX operator of North Luzon Expressway and Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway also committed to transfer the existing RFID sticker installation and account reloading in Karuhatan and Mindanao toll plazas effective immediately in order to improve traffic flow.
    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Valenzuela City’s suspension of NLEX’s business permit could “turnoff” potential investors from pursuing similar projects in the future.

    Roque said while local government units have autonomy and the authority to issue business permits for projects and operations in their jurisdiction, they should also consider the overall impact of their decision. – With Myla Iglesias, Jocelyn Montemayor and Noel Talacay