In this March 17, 2020, photo, the NLEX-Mindanao Ave. bound for Luzon is closed to motorists due to scarcity of thermal scanners.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

NLEX threatened with suspension over ‘atrocious traffic’ due to RFID implementation

( - December 5, 2020 - 10:28am

MANILA, Philippines — Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian is threatening to suspend the business permit of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Corp. over the heavy traffic caused by the implementation of the RFID toll system.

In a strongly worded letter to NLEX chief operating officer Raul Ignacio on Friday, Gatchalian gave the tollway until Monday to explain why its business permit should not be suspended over its “miserable failure” to comply with its obligations which has caused “chaos” and “atrocious traffic” in the city.

Valenzuelanos, we deserve better. For everyone's information hindi po nagtatapos ang laban natin sa bulok na RFID system...

Posted by REX Gatchalian on Friday, December 4, 2020

Gatchalian is also giving NLEX until Saturday to present an action plan to solve the RFID mess.

The local chief executive is largely placing the blame on NLEX’s “primitive sensors” for the traffic jams that have plagued the tollway since it shifted to a purely cashless system.

He said he has raised this with the tollway seven years ago, but the problem still persists until today.

“Until you get your act together and perfect your existing tollway system, the city government may withdraw as your partner in your future planned expansions in our jurisdiction,” he said.

RFID or radio frequency identification is essentially a cashless payment system in tollways involving electromagnetic stickers in vehicles automatically read at toll gates for swift passage. 

In August, the transportation department mandated the compulsory use of RFID to lessen human contact in paying cash and prevent coronavirus infections.

That was supposed to be enforced last Tuesday, but motorists that flocked RFID application sites failed to get their stickers on time, mostly because toll operators failed to anticipate demand and ran out of stickers. As a result, some cash payments had been permitted and government said no apprehensions would be made for doing so until January.

But this, along with sensor glitches, caused traffic jams near toll gates, extending commuters’ trips to several hours.

Tollway officials have attributed the heavy traffic to birthing pains of the new system, considering that not all vehicles have RFID stickers yet and that the full implementation of the cashless toll payment system came after a long weekend. — Xave Gregorio

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