MANILA, Philippines — Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. and San Miguel Corp. Tollways have started testing ways to make their radio frequency identification (RFID) stickers compatible with each other’s tollway system, according to Romulo Quimbo, chief communications officer of MPTC.
MPTC manages the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), Cavite Expressway (Cavitex), Harbour Link, and Cala Expressway.
As of now, MPTC’s RFID is not compatible with the roads run by the SMC Tollways — the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx), Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx), and STAR Tollway.
This means motorists who want to use roads run by both MPTC and SMC Tollways need to have two RFIDs — Easytrip for MPTC and Autosweep for SMC.
According to Quimbo, the companies have agreed to achieve the interoperability of their RFIDs.
“Of course, because we belong to different firms, there are differences in procedures, software, and hardware,” he said in Filipino in a phone interview with INQUIRER.net. “In 2017, we agreed that we will do inoperability in phases.
“Actually, interoperability only means compatibility,” he added “So our being compatible is a long-term objective. I think testing has just started. It’s not yet complete. That testing period won’t happen overnight.”
Questions on the need to buy RFIDs came up after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) ordered tollways to adopt a cashless payment system to minimize human contact that could spread the coronavirus.
According to the DOTr order, tollways must comply by Nov. 2.
This order made a lot of motorists worry, however, that they might not be able to use tollways of either company once the order is implemented.
In response, toll firms set up booths where motorists can avail of the RFID stickers.
Quimbo said that they would help motorists without an RFID sticker to apply for one.
Compatibility of RFIDs is important to frequent travelers — like cargo movers, public transport operators, and businesspeople using tollways managed by both MPTC and SMC Tollways.
For example, motorists traveling up north to the Ilocos Region and the Cordillera might have a problem with their RFIDs: NLEx and SCTEx are run by MPTC while TPLEx is run by SMC Tollways.
The same scenario occurs down south: SLEx and Naia Expressway are run by SMC Tollways, but several adjacent expressways like Cavitex and CALA Expressways are under the jurisdiction of MPTC.
What would likely happen, Quimbo said, is that motorists can obtain just one RFID sticker — either Easytrip or Autosweep — and use the account for that one sticker for loading credits from either company.
“Our plan is one sticker, two accounts. One RFID sticker, but it contains an Easytrip and an Autosweep account. So that’s the next step to remove confusion among motorists,” Quimbo said.
The priority is testing to make SCTEx and TPLEx interoperable because they are connected, according to Quimbo.