Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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Shortchanging Filipino commuters

/ 05:14 AM January 11, 2018

Thank you for allowing my letter, “RFID malfunction,” to be published in your paper last Jan. 5.

Following publication of my letter of complaint about RFID (radio-frequency identification) and traffic at the Skyway, I am happy to report that the head of RFID, Nelly Argota, sent a team to my house the following day to examine the car stickers. They found two of the stickers defective and another sticker not correctly in place. New stickers were provided.

While I have thanked them for their quick response, I was bothered by the band-aid solution of which I was a beneficiary. What about the thousand others who have not written a complaint?

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I therefore sought additional feedback from various sources and from Google’s “best practices in  tollway RFID.” Here are my findings:

1) RFID technology — there are many superior models that allow fast scanning, data gathering, analytics, flashing of balances, seamless connection with other toll operators etc. The local RFID is probably one of the cheapest with the oldest technology, otherwise, why are there so many complaints on malfunction.

2) Unreliable supply of RFID stickers — I am told that 3M supplies most, if not all, the stickers. However, time and again, customers who wish to replace or buy new stickers and make a long trip to one of the few RFID stations go home empty-handed because of “no stocks.” And yes, they have to make another trip to that station until they get their RFID stickers. Imagine the wasted time, fuel and additional traffic this redundant process causes?

3) Inferior quality of RFID stickers — Most RFID stickers in other countries can be read by scanners even through tinted windshields. By placing the stickers on the inner part of the windshields (as opposed to current practice of placing them on the headlights and exposing them to heat, rain and the elements), the stickers last much longer than the headlight stickers.

It appears to me that Filipino commuters are being shortchanged big time by multibillionaire operators. Whatever happened to corporate responsibility that their mission and values proudly extol?

The government, through Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade must likewise be held accountable for allowing this poor and inefficient RFID system to continue adding to, instead of easing, traffic problems. Can’t the Department of Transportation, through its regulatory oversight take the operators to task and demand world-class technology?

The operators have the resources to invest in the best technology to help prevent traffic buildup, prevent pollution, save precious commuting time and fuel. Not to mention avoiding customer frustration and high blood pressure.

Why is the multibillion corporation holding back in providing Filipino commuters with world-class technology?

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Why are our Asian neighbors way ahead when it comes to tollway management?

DIONISIO R. GIL JR., Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City

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TAGS: Arthur Tugade, Dionisio R. Gil Jr., DOTr, Inquirer letters, Nelly Argota, radio-frequency identification, RFID, skyway
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