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Toll firms to test interoperability of RFID systems

TOLL OPERATORS will still be required to have lanes for the installation of RFID stickers beyond Jan. 11. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE TOLLWAY units of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) will soon begin to test the interoperability of their cashless payment systems, the Transportation department said on Monday.

SMC TPLEX Corp., Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) and NLEX Corp. signed on Dec. 4 a memorandum of agreement to test the use of AutoSweep and EasyTrip radio frequency identification (RFID) cashless toll payments for the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).

AutoSweep RFID tags are issued by SMC for use on the tollways it operates, while the EasyTrip RFID tags are issued by MPTC for its own tollways.

Eventually, the motorists will be required to have only one RFID sticker “but now it’s the mutual compatibility,” Romulo S. Quimbo, Jr., NLEX Corp. senior vice-president for communications, told BusinessWorld in a phone interview.

Mr. Quimbo said “mutual compatibility” would mean one sticker, either AutoSweep or EasyTrip, can be used on any toll road.

“That means you have two accounts or two wallets in your sticker,” he added.

Mr. Quimbo said the 14-day interoperability testing will start “in a few days’ time.”

The Transportation department said the interoperability testing will involve 45 vehicles from different classifications.

“After the test, the participants will submit their test transaction reports and dashcam video recordings to the steering committee for validation and assessment. The steering committee is given five (5) days, from the complete submission of the data collected, to determine the read rate percentage or the system’s performance indicator when comparing RFID infrastructure,” the department said.

Mr. Quimbo said the results of the tests may be announced by January. “Hopefully the conclusion is that a sticker can be used on two expressways provided that you activate another account in the same sticker,” he added.

The Transportation department said efforts to make the toll collection systems interoperable were started in 2017 after the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the toll road operators.

The implementation of the project was accelerated this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Transportation department earlier set Dec. 1 as the deadline for toll operators to implement cashless payments, but the transition period will end on Jan. 11, which means motorists without RFID stickers will not be apprehended just yet.

Toll operators will still be required to have lanes for the installation of RFID stickers beyond Jan. 11.

MPTC is the tollways unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., one of three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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