Manila Bulletin

SMC opening 100 more RFID installation sites

To cope with the skyrocketing demand for free Autosweep Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) stickers before the December 1, 2020 full implementation of cashless toll fees at major expressways, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is putting up 100 additional RFID installation sites to serve motorists from southern and northern Metro Manila and beyond.

SMC noted a larger-than-expected spike in applications, particularly from non-regular users hoping to beat the deadline, according to president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang.

SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang

While motorists will still be able to get RFID stickers even after next month’s deadline, SMC is implementing measures to accommodate the large volume of applications.

First of all, SMC is increasing manpower and equipment to fast-track the pre-enrollment and pre-activation of new Autosweep kits.

It is extending installation hours within the carriageway to 24 hours, seven days a week.

This includes the Skyway Runway Plaza, Old NAIAX toll plaza, C5 toll plaza and Nichols and Calamba toll plazas.

SMC activated 100 new installation sites immediately, as soon as the company received its expected bulk delivery of RFID stickers.

The company likewise increased tag allocation at the 52 existing sites as well as increasing offsite installation at barangays and villages.

Once SMC has openef enough additional installation sites, the current Autosweep Online Appointment system will be modified to accommodate requests to hold Autosweep RFID Caravan in LGUS, villages and malls, Ang promised.

Autosweep stations will again start accepting walk-in applicants, with strict implementation of safety and health protocols.

Special handling will be provided for those who already booked through online appointment.

The company is also expecting delivery of its RFID Mobile Wing Vans soon.

These vans will enable Autosweep personnel to go to more areas and conduct installation activities.

Motorists can still avail of free RFID stickers even after December 1.

“Although vehicles without RFID will no longer be allowed to travel on tollways beginning December 1, we will still have RFID installation in various locations, as well as continuing programs for motorists to get stickers,” he reiterated.

“We will also maintain installation sites at major entry plazas. You can still secure stickers at a more convenient time, even after the deadline.”

Many motorists experienced difficulty in securing RFID stickers from tollways operators, the president acknowledged.

In the case of SMC tollways, the spike in applications coupled with production and delivery issues from RFID tag suppliers due to the pandemic, caused some of the issues.

“I apologize for any inconvenience,” Ang stated.

SMC’s Infrastructure unit saw a huge spike in applications in October, as the initial November 2 implementation set by government, approached.

With the implementation moved to Dec. 1, they then experienced a larger-than-expected volume of applications from non-regular users of its expressways—STAR, SLEX, Skyway, NAIAX, and TPLEX.

In addition, RFID tag suppliers suffered production and manpower limitations and a shortage of chip components, largely due to the pandemic.

This resulted in delayed and staggered deliveries of RFID stickers.

Given that SMC’s Autosweep system has the capability to be enrolled in Metro Pacific Tollways’ Easytrip toll collection system, many subscribers optedvto avail of Autosweep for use in both SMC and MPTC tollways.

This contributed to the larger volume of applications.

The SMC President committed to put up more installation sites in the north, given the huge increase in applications from non-regular users from the north who want to secure their free stickers.

“Traditionally, because most of our expressways—SLEX, STAR, SKYWAY, NAIAX—are in the south, the vast majority of our users are in the south,” Angcexplained.

“However, we have received so many inquiries, requests, and applications from non-regular users in the north, so we are increasing the number of installation sites there,” he noted.

“Our main objective is to serve as many motorists as possible, in the most efficient way we can.”