The Senate on Monday adopted a resolution urging the Department of Transportation to halt the implementation of the mandatory cashless toll system.
Senate Resolution 596, filed by 15 senators, “expressed the sense of the Senate to strongly urge the DoTr and its attached agencies to immediately suspend its order which imposes mandatory cashless system in tollgates in the country.”
The same resolution also asked the agency to amend its order “to reflect the actions taken to improve” the implementation of cashless and contactless transactions.
“While it is recognized that the implementation of the cashless transaction system on toll expressways is a step towards a more convenient commuting and/or travel experience for all and will also reduce contact and minimize the spread of COVID-19l, it is not appropriation and is unfair to the public to implement a system wherein the implementers themselves are not ready and equipped to make the transition seamless,” the resolution read.
The resolution was signed by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senators Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, Manny Pacquiao, Imee Marcos, Bong Revilla, Ronald Dela Rosa, Francis Pangilinan, Panfilo Lacson, Leila De Lima, Joel Villanueva, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, and Sherwin Gatchalian.
In sponsoring the resolution, Senate Public Services Committee Chair Grace Poe said the “hasty implementation” of DOTR’s department order has made the toll plazas a parking lot.
“This representation already said before but let the records be clear – cashless transactions in our expressways are indeed ideal. Especially in this time of the pandemic, I dare say that it is a necessity. However, effective policies are not borne out of good intentions alone,” she said.
The order, Poe noted, “does not seem to take into account the preparedness of our toll expressway service providers to comply with such an order. It is being hounded by various issues concerning its implementation.”
This resolution has stemmed from the difficulty in obtaining RFIDs; the unreasonable cap set by toll operators on the number of vehicles they accommodate per day for RFID installation; high minimum load requirement; malfunctioning RFID readers and scanners; delays in the reloading system of RFID accounts; unauthorized transactions; and other glitches that prohibit quick access, among others.
Poe said the suspension of cashless toll system should be upheld as long as the department has allowed cash lanes in consideration of infrequent and first-time users of expressways; removed penalties for insufficient cash balances as this should not be a traffic violation and may be remedied at the next reloading opportunity; imposed a deadline on interoperability before a deadline for the cashless transaction is imposed; created a policy on dormant accounts and the accumulated amounts that are expected to pile up through time; resolved all other issues for a better cashless and contactless toll system.
The Senate Public Services Committee will start the inquiry on the cashless toll payments system on Thursday.