Tap cards serve as backup to RFID cashless payment: TRB

Updated Dec 11, 2020 | Same topic: RFID (Autosweep & Easytrip)

One remedy for RFID woes can come in the form of a tried and tested method.

Almost two weeks after the deadline for implementing cashless toll collection, and problems are still coming up at every turn. Motorists continue to endure a range of setbacks, from limited sticker supplies and malfunctioning scanners to disappearing load balances.

RFID installation

The ongoing RFID installation program isn't going as smoothly as initially expected

Exasperated over traffic jams caused by the installation process, one city has already suspended toll collection over its jurisdiction, and other areas are threatening to follow suit. With issues hounding the RFID tags, it may be time to rely on a more tested method – the tap card system.

In 2016, digital financial services provider PayMaya Philippines began limited trials in e-payment using Beep, Mastercard, and credit cards for toll collection along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). The cards are tapped against a scanner which deducts the necessary amount from the stored balance. A year later, this was expanded to other thoroughfares operated by Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC).

>>> Related: NLEX taking RFID ruckus with Valenzuela City to court

e-payment cards

Thoroughfares under the MPTC previously offered other e-payment methods

A report from Autoindustriya.com quotes Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) executive director Abraham Sales as saying that this mode of payment still exists for tollways. But rather than being a standalone toll collection system, it serves as a fallback in case the RFID tag couldn’t be read by the scanners. Unlike the old method, there’s no need to tap the card against the reader since toll operators can remotely scan the card for the transaction.

Commuters are especially familiar with Beep cards, which are primarily used on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) lines as well as point-to-point (P2P) bus routes. Users can top up the balance at convenience stores or through loading machines found in rail stations. The only caveat with these cards is that they have a limited validity date, and must be replaced periodically once expired.

Beep card

Beep cards are relatively easier to acquire and reload than RFID stickers

Even San Miguel Corporation (SMC), which uses the relatively problem-free Autosweep RFID system on its own tollways, admits that it is currently struggling with demand. After all, the stickers are specially ordered overseas, and the supply chain is still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

>>> Related: TRB orders toll operators to replace defective RFID scanners

Tollway

Motorists need options while waiting for issues surrounding RFIDs to be resolved

What isn’t in short supply are the Beep cards, as well as debit and credit cards (the recent rise in online transactions can attest to that). Until the issues surrounding RFID stickers are resolved, it would make good sense to tap (pun not intended) into these alternatives and give motorists better options for toll payment.

More updates in mobility and transport at Philkotse.com.

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Author

Joseph has been a member of various car clubs since he got his driver's license in 2004 – old enough to remember riding in taxicabs with analog meters, but his fascination with cars goes way back. After nearly two decades of working in broadcast media, he shifted gears by coming on board as Philkotse’s first Filipino member and staff writer in 2017.

Apart from his role in Philkotse as Content Team Lead, Joseph has written episodes for Drive, which has been airing on CNN Philippines for five seasons running. He has also delivered content for various car dealerships based in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, among others.

Keeping his hopes high and his revs low, he dreams about owning a Kei car when he retires. Hates slow parkers.

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