3 Metro tollroad groups agree to integrate payment systems
The three tollroad groups that operate over a dozen expressways in Metro Manila and nearby portions of Luzon sealed an agreement Friday that would integrate their current cash and electronic payment systems, as well as those of future roads, within one year.
It was described as a milestone event by conglomerates San Miguel Corp., Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Ayala Corp. as well as government agencies, led by the Department of Transportation and Department of Public Works and Highways, whose secretaries were present Friday.
Tollroad payments integration—which has clear benefits in terms of convenience for motorists—has been an elusive goal for previous administrations. It was among the items that Transportation secretary Arthur Tugade promised when he assumed his current post.
“This is what I call the exercise of common sense,” Tugade said on Friday. “We have 13 expressways.”
The country’s tollroad sector is controlled by San Miguel (South Luzon Expressway, Metro Manila Skyway, Naia Expressway, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway and Star Tollway), Metro Pacific (North Luzon Expressway, Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway and Cavite Expressway) and Ayala Corp. (Muntinlupa Cavite Expressway).
Several more are being built, including a couple of massive elevated tollroads that would cut through Metro Manila’s traffic-strangled roads and link NLEx and SLEx by 2020 and 2021.
The memorandum of understanding signed on Friday will require expressway operators to “update their collection systems to allow interoperability and integration.”
More importantly, it comes with a deadline. The plan was to have Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) integration in six months while cash interoperability, regarded as a more complex task, would be done in another six months.
READ: Single electronic tag for all tollroads readied
Once fully implemented, a motorist can use a single electronic tag when traveling between tollroads. For cash payments, they get a ticket upon entering a tollroad and payment only comes once they exit, regardless of the tollroad’s operator.
This would benefit motorists such as those traveling from Metro Manila to Baguio City: they enter using the NLEx and only pay when exiting TPLEx. It would be the same between the northern and southern networks, once connector roads being built by SMC and Metro Pacific are opened.
“You can expect better services from your operators, and you can expect more travel convenience, “Rodrigo Franco, CEO of Metro Pacific subsidiary Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., said on Friday.
Manuel Bonoan, representing San Miguel Holdings, said “this is a first step for all of us to work together. We will see to it that we can continue to cooperate with each other to make this work at the earliest possible time.”
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