MANILA, Philippines – A total of 13 existing and under construction toll roads in Luzon will be operating on a single payment system by 2018.
This was after the Department of Transportation and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with toll operators – groups under Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, San Miguel Corporation and Ayala Corporation – on Friday, September 15.
“This is what I call the exercise of common sense. Tollways have been there for a long time. We have 13 expressways. Isn't it a common sense to use just one payment system?," Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in mixed Filipino and English during the MOA signing in Taguig City.
Under the MOA, expressway operators will be required to update their collection systems to allow interoperability and integration.
This means motorists can use their electronic tags from one expressway to another.
When paying in cash, motorists will get a ticket once at entry and pay once at exit. From instance, when going to Baguio from Manila, motorists will get an entry ticket at North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and then pay when they exit at Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX).
"Seamless toll operation is expected to cut travel time and bring about a new level of convenience for motorists," the transportation department said.
For the existing toll roads, transportation assistant secretary for rails Timothy John Batan said the single electronic payment for all 13 expressways will be implemented in March 2018, while unified cash payment is set in September 2018.
These expressways are:
"This is a great testimony to the will and dedication of our President. What unites us all is the goal to improve lives of Filipinos, help them come home earlier and spend more time with their families," DPWH Secretary Mark Villar. (READ: Buses, jeepneys in the Philippines to be modernized by 2020)
Private sector commitment
The MOA requires toll operators to install and maintain an electronic transit media reading device in at least two entry and exit toll booths. This device is capable of reading, accepting, and processing any electronic transit media approved by the Toll Regulatory Board.
"We would like to thank the government for making this significant step towards achieving our goal of giving commuters a better travel experience," said Dodjie Lagazo, head of legal and external affairs of AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation.
For cash payment, toll operators are required to install and maintain entry ticket reading device in at least two entry and exit toll booths.
"It took a long time to get this done. What we can assure you is that we will work very hard to make sure this agreement is realized. Motorists can expect better service because of this agreement," said Rodrigo Franco, chief of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation.
For Manuel Bonoan of San Miguel Holdings Incorporated, the unified toll collection "is the first step" of toll operators working together.
It was in March 2016 when the Metro Pacific group completed the P650-million integration of NLEX and SCTEX, which cut travel time from Balintawak to Subic by up to 40 minutes. – Rappler.com