DOTr goes digital; to harness best practices in technology for seamless transactions, limit human intervention

MANILA – The four sectors of the Department of Transportation (DOTr): Road Transport; Railways; Maritime; and Aviation are shifting to the “new normal” through digitalization and by harnessing the best practices in technological advancements in different transactions.

The move is in line with the safety precautionary measures being prescribed by health authorities to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). These include measures such as physical distancing or limiting direct human-to-human intervention.

While other measures are in place for the continuous development of the country’s transport system, Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said the agency will also ensure that the public transportation sector will not become a transmission vector of the disease.

“While the mandate of the Department of Transportation is to provide transportation, mobility and convenience among the population, we are vested with the responsibility that we must help in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” the transportation chief said.

In the Road sector, several transactions will be made online and through cashless payments.

Starting 16 June 2020, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will launch in Metro Manila the Public Transport Online Processing System (PTOPS), which will allow services to be made accessible online.

Meanwhile, the Land Transportation Office will implement digital transactions made through the Land Transportation Management System (LTMS). Through the system, application for driver/conductor’s renewal of license, requests for revision of records, and requests for Certificate of No Apprehension can be processed online.

Additionally, cashless transactions will also be implemented in public utility vehicles (PUVs), taxis, and Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) through Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS). This is carried out through the support of various payment solutions companies, whose mobile applications have also features that allow contact tracing of passengers.

Further, electronic toll collection will also be made through the mandatory use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on all PUVs using tollways and expressways.

In the Railways sector, services will undergo total digitalization. This includes online reservations or train ticket purchases. Passengers can also opt to use cards or use digital payment options.

In addition to this, rail networks will also expand the use of artificial intelligence on its infrastructure. This method will be of great benefit for massive scanning and temperature profiling, automated contact tracing, human to human contact detection or detection of social distancing violations, face mask detection, and frequent contact surface analysis.

In the Maritime sector, the Automated Passenger Ticketing System will soon be implemented. The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) will automate passenger ticketing in all its passenger terminals nationwide to avoid face-to-face ticketing transactions.

The pilot testing of the system started on March this year and is targeted to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2020.

There will also be an integration of all payment platforms into one system covering all PPA terminals to limit face-to-face cargo transactions.

Further, a centralized vessel tracking and port surveillance system called the National Port Monitoring Center will be implemented. This will be used to monitor vessel and port activities as part of border control and protection.

Lastly, in the Aviation sector, the use of Virtual Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tower is being considered.

Te use of remote virtual towers allows ATC services to be provided away from the airport, instead of airport towers. The said advanced technology is heavily looked into to ensure that passenger safety will not be compromised.

“We are gearing to a future wherein technological advancement will be highly optimized. As we gradually shift to the “new normal,” we have to adapt digitalization in most of the things we do so that we can move forward and achieve healing faster,” Secretary Tugade expressed.