By Tom Noda
The first application of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology in Philippine roads is now being implemented at the Cavite Expressway (Cavitex) with the official launch of the country’s first RFID toll sticker on Tuesday, June 24.
Called “EasyDrive”, the RFID sticker is a new payment option created by the research and development team of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC)
The electronic payment system is initially being offered for motorists passing along the 14-kilometer Cavitex that connects Manila and the province of Cavite.
MPTC president Ramoncito Fernandez, together with Cavitex Infrastructure Corporation (CIC) president and CEO Luigi Bautista, launched EasyDrive in ceremonies held at the Cavitex Paranaque Exit, activating in the area the RFID sticker’s point of sales stations.
EasyDrive can now be used on Cavitex’s toll plazas in Paranaque and Kawit town in Cavite.
Bautista said EasyDrive is a paper-thin battery-less RFID sticker which contains a chip and antenna that is attached to a vehicle’s windshield designed to provide convenient toll road access by solving traditional queuing problems in paying toll.
The sticker also has a specific ID number to avoid duplication.
Fernandez claimed EasyDrive is now the fastest system in toll road access in the country compared to other electronic payment systems such as EasyTrip for NLEX (North Luzon Expressway) and e-Tap, also in Cavitex, noting that payment transactions using the RFID sticker only takes three to six seconds.
“With EasyDrive, motorists only need to slow down and not make a full stop to pay their tolls,” he said. “Cash is the slowest system, as transaction time normally takes 15 seconds. The magnetic cash card eTap has lower transaction time but is not that efficient.”
Fernandez said the reloadable EasyDrive sticker is now available at the Cavitex customer service centers in Paranaque for P200 for Class 1 cars, plus an initial minimum amount of P200. It will also be made available in EasyTrip reloading facilities and services by mid-July.
He said MPTC intends to implement EasyDrive in the premier toll road which is the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) before 2014 ends.
“Originally, our intention is to introduce RFID sticker tag in NLEX. But convenience wise and timetable wise, we saw fit to introduce this sticker tag in Cavitex because NLEX is still in the midst of upgrading its toll collection system. As soon as they’re finish, we will be able to implement also EasyDrive in their system,” Fernandez said.
He noted that the e-Tap in Cavitex is now at 13-percent penetration rate while EasyTrip is at 22 percent in NLEX.
“EasyDrive stickers could last for 10 years,” Bautista said. “With proper care and installation, it will cost less than the existing conventional tollway tags in the domestic market and will not require any replacement in the future.”
Bautista said modern toll roads in the US, Canada, Taiwan, and some parts of Europe use RFID technology.
He added CIC, as builder of Cavitex, recently partnered with dominant carrier PLDT and has installed a fiber-optic backbone along Cavitex to host their ongoing systems upgrade related to toll collection, telecommunications, and security operations.
Asked about the privacy concerns that some groups have raised against the use of RFID, Fernandez said MPTC will not delve into it unless there is a court order.
“Our only objective is to use RFID as a convenient access to our toll roads,” Fernandez said. “We will only act on privacy issues if there are court orders; if the legal system is asking us to do so.”
MPTC, the holding company of Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) and CIC, operates 63 percent of the total 320kms of toll roads, namely, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway or SCTEX at 94kms, NLEX at 86kms, Cavitex at 14kms, and the 8.8 kilometer Subic Freeport Expressway.