With digital transactions becoming a necessity in the “new normal” setup, local government officials in Bulacan and Pampanga are encouraging the public to go for cashless toll payments at NLEX-SCTEX as a measure to prevent the transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19.

In its series of dialogues with local government units, NLEX Corporation discussed the company’s transition to contactless transactions through radio frequency identification or RFID platform, in line with the Department of Transportation’s digitalization drive.

The RFID is a small, paper-thin, and battery-less sticker that is directly mounted onto the vehicle’s windshield or headlight.

NLEX Corporation is shifting from cash to full RFID-enabled toll collection lanes before the year ends and ramping up its information drive by offering more ways to make it convenient for motorists to avail the RFID. Among these efforts include putting up more installation sites including 24/7 ones and making the Stick-It-Yourself stickers available onsite and online.

Looking after the welfare of his constituents, Municipality of Bocaue, Bulacan Mayor Jose Santiago Jr. said, Bilang alkalde ng Bocaue, hangad ko ang kaligtasan ng mga mamamayan ng aming bayan. Hinihikayat ko kayo na magpa-install ng RFID sticker sa inyong mga sasakyan para sa contactless transactions sa pagdaan ninyo sa mga toll gate ng NLEX. Isang magandang hakbang ito para sa ibayong pag-iingat natin laban sa Covid-19.”

To keep her people safe, Meycauayan City Mayor Linabelle Ruth Villarica noted that all vehicles owned by the City Government have been equipped with RFID. “Sa RFID, mayroon tayong contact-free transactions at siguradong mapapabilis ang biyahe. Win-win solution po ito ngayong panahon ng pandemic para sa resilience ng ating lungsod.”

The national government has been asking LGUs to beef up the use of contactless payments in their communities as the fight against the dreaded virus continues. The Angeles City Council recently passed a resolution advising the general public to use RFID when passing through the expressways.

Putting premium on the safety of Angeleños, Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr. of City of Angeles, Pampanga expressed support for the implementation of cashless expressway transactions. “Malaking tulong ang RFID laban sa COVID dahil contactless na po at wala na pong face to face na pagbabayad. Sa traffic naman po natin, mas madali at mas mabilis ang magiging daloy ng trapiko kapag naka-RFID tayo,” he said.

Echoing Mayor Lazatin is Angeles City Vice Mayor Maria Vicenta Vega-Cabigting, who mentioned that, “This technology will really help us curb the spread of COVID-19. I think it’s going to be a big help, not just sa convenience ng tao, but also to prevent the spread of the disease.”

The Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PamCham) likewise recognized the benefits of using RFID. PamCham President Renato Romero noted that “the use of this technology will not only reduce the queues in the toll lanes, but more importantly, mitigate the threat of the Covid-19 to the delivery of essential goods and services.”

24/7 RFID sticker installation sites are already open at the NLEX Bocaue Toll Plaza (SB) Lane X01, Balintawak Toll Plaza (NB) Lane 10, and Mindanao Toll Plaza (NB) Lane N02.

Onsite RFID sticker installation is also available Monday to Sunday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Balintawak Customer Service Center parking area and Philippine Arena Northbound Exit Lane N04, while the Easytrip tent after Balagtas Toll Plaza Exit is open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and the Marilao Toll Plaza Southbound Entry parking area from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, installation sites in Philippine Arena Southbound Entry and Exit, Mindanao Customer Service Parking Area, Tabang Toll Plaza Entry, Balagtas Toll Plaza Entry, and Easytrip tents in Angeles and Karuhatan as well as in the rest and refueling  areas: NLEX Drive and Dine Valenzuela, Petron Marilao, Petron Bocaue, Shell Burol, and Petron Lakeshore are open from Monday to Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Motorists may also have their free RFID stickers installed at Tabang and San Fernando Customer Service Centers from Monday to Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; as well as Clark South and Tarlac installation sites from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., respectively. Installation sites are also open from Monday to Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. before the toll plaza entries in San Simon and Mexico, and Shell Mexico.

In addition, customers can also get Stick-It-Yourself RFID stickers in select NLEX-SCTEX toll booths in Mindanao, Valenzuela southbound, Meycauayan southbound, Marilao southbound, Bocaue Barrier, Bocaue Interchange southbound, Balagtas, Tabang, San Fernando northbound, Sta. Ines, Concepcion, Dinalupihan, and Tarlac as well as in NLEX Customer Service Centers in Balintawak, and Valenzuela, from Monday to Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tabang and San Fernando from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

“We are overwhelmed by the support of our stakeholders in our RFID migration campaign. The RFID eliminates queuing at toll plazas and would help motorists travel with ease. Rest assured that you can count on us to help provide safe, seamless, and efficient expressway services to the public,” said NLEX Corporation President and General Manager J. Luigi L. Bautista.

Bautista also reminded motorists that battery-powered Easytrip tags in use since 2005 at the NLEX-SCTEX will be phased out by September 30, 2020 as part of the transition to RFID.

The RFID sticker with a microchip will replace the Easytrip tag which will no longer be usable after the phase out. However, current Easytrip tag users are assured that any remaining account balance will be carried over once they switch to the new RFID system.

“Our motorists may visit any of our installation sites, call our hotline 1-35000, or send messages to our social media accounts to know more about the RFID migration,” Bautista added.