In an Industry Leaders’ Forum on the subject of “Cashless Society and Mobility on the Road to Recovery,” industry executives pledged to expand cashless transactions in their operations, and help fuel the country’s economic recovery even amidst a raging health crisis as an urgent collective action.
Among these leaders is expressway industry leader Rodrigo E. Franco, president and CEO of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), who saw and shared the “hope of an emerging economy that could grow out of the crisis, especially one that it is driven by the rapid and extended use of digital technologies.”
Other Forum speakers were Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President Vince Dizon, Pampanga Commerce and Industry (Pamcham) President Nestor Mangio, PayMaya Philippines President Shailesh Baidwan, Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines (PBOAP) Executive Director Alex Yague, Baguio City Mayor Benjie Magalong, and Sustainable and Inclusive Mobility Advocate Robert Siy, who moderated the Leaders’ Forum.
Franco led the Forum resource speakers, who alternately took note of the current crisis buffetting the country, and presented possible solutions to fast-track economic recovery. Dizon spoke of headways made in managing the health crisis, while discussing BCDA’s construction and development projects, which are creating thousands of jobs and stimulating local economies. PamCham leader Mangio cited the high mobility benefits from expressways passing Central Luzon, notably– NLEX, SCTEX, Subic Freeport Expressway (SFEX), and TPLEX.
PayMaya’s Baidwan unveiled new cashless transactions that minimize human exposure to the virus and stimulate trade and commerce; Yague revealed thousands of buses that observe protocol while transporting people; Baguio City’s Magalong showcased the transformation of his “smart city,” with maximized use of digitization; and Siy underscored the exciting prospects of a high-mobility and digitized future.
MPTC’s Franco told Forum online participants that “MPTC’s improvements were initially part of a medium-term plan to maximize the use of digital technologies,” and yet “we were prompted for quick implementation, cooperating with government to control the spread of the Covid virus. Thus, cashless transactions, through RFID, were installed and activated in all toll plazas of MPTC’s expressways .”
Franco said that MPTC expressways are “now fully implementing cashless transactions at toll plazas, are pioneering in barrier-less toll plazas, and laying the groundwork for an open road tolling system.”
On the need to help fuel the country’s economic recovery and sustain business continuity in the wake of the pandemic, Franco disclosed that MPTC is accelerating tollway infrastructure build-up – notably the the construction of the NLEX Connector, the Urban Ring Road in Metro Manila, and the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway in Cebu.
“These alone will create thousands of jobs during and after tollway construction, give rise to allied industries in project sites, re-ignite investment enthusiasm, and rekindle hope for an increasing number of our people,” Franco said.
Concluding his conversation with transport leaders in the Forum, Franco shared the “wave of the future” – encapsulized in the initials ACES. He added that “ACES” stand for Autonomous Vehicles, Connectivity, Electric, and Shared Mobility.
Autonomous vehicles are “driver-less” as showcased by the Tesla’s Autopilot, among others. Catching the imagination of the highly developed countries, these autonomous vehicles will enhance road safety, because it eliminates “driver error,” Franco said. “Simply because there is no driver to speak of,” he added.
Connectivity, now widely experienced in the country, will be maximized by more and more digital technologies, connecting people and services more and more, he said.
Electric has entered the scene with electric motor bikes and hybrid electric cars. “This will significantly reduce carbon monoxide on the road and will truly result in clean air,” Franco said.
On shared use mobility, Franco regaled participants of the concept of “not owning,” but still be highly mobile. He pointed out that this traditional “car ownership” will give way to bike sharing, ride sharing, and other ride sourcing schemes.
On the whole, Franco said any firm which embraces these new changes and translate them into business plans “will become one of the most important transport or mobility companies in the region.”