DOTr: Despite ‘100% cashless’ tollways by mid-2021, cash payments will be accepted in emergencies

It’s going to take a while
by Drei Laurel | Dec 17, 2020
PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño

Our country’s shift to 100% cashless tollways is going anything but smoothly. We think the past few weeks have made this very, very apparent. A lot of kinks in the policy’s implementation still need to be sorted out, and it appears the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is aware of this.

During a Senate hearing held earlier today, DOTr head Arthur Tugade was asked by Senator Nancy Binay what the final target of the agency really is: “What is the end goal? Is the end goal to be 100% cashless?”

According to Tugade, yes, “at a certain point in time,” expressways will be 100% cashless.  The official added that if what was agreed upon with operators goes according to plan, this will be achieved around the middle of 2021.

“Yes, madam senator. At a certain point in time. Ang habol ko ho diyan, kung susundin yung mga usap-usapan with the service providers, mga middle of next year ma-achieve ho iyan,” Tugade said, pointing out that both San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and NLEX Corporation are already working on achieving full interoperability.

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Senator Grace Poe later followed up Binay’s question about achieving 100% cashless transactions by asking whether or not any cash booths will be retained. Tugade replied in the affirmative, saying the DOTr will always allow cash payments.

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Kung sinabi natin 100% cashless, we will always allow the avenue of having a cash booth for emergencies,” Tugade said during the hearing. “We have to provide for emergencies like that.”

Yung emergency ho, halimbawa nandoon at walang RFID, at pwedeng pumayag, eh dapat mayroon booth dun na i-allow for a cash transaction. Makikita ho nila yung daloy ng trapiko sa RFID mabilis, pero mag-aantay ho sila kasi emergency. Ganun po yun,” Tugade added when asked to define what an emergency vehicle is.

Okay...so, what can we take in here? Two things: that 100% cashless toll payments should be a thing by mid-2021...and cash payments will still be allowed in some cases. Come to think of it, is it really 100% cashless, then? Let us know your opinion in the comments.

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PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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