San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president Ramon S. Ang appealed to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to extend tomorrow's (December 1) deadline for cashless transactions till February for the sake of motorists scrambling to get Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) stickers.
"Given the surge in last-minute applications we’re seeing, we don’t think we will be able to serve everyone. A large number of motorists will not make it to the December 1 deadline,” he warned this Sunday.
Despite the company’s roll out of additional measures to fast-track the installation of stickers—including opening 100 additional sticker installation sites and implementing 24 hours installation at major locations—the volume was just too much.
All lanes at toll plazas of SMC's expressways—Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Southern Luxon Expressway (SLEX) the Skyway System, NAIA Expressway, and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX)—are ready and fully equipped for the shift to 100% electronic toll collection tomorrow (December 1), Ang declared.
However, it’s the huge number of motorists that have still not secured their RFID stickers, that should be given due consideration, he underscored.
“I have been monitoring the situation. We only one day to go, and yet our sticker installation sites are still packing long lines, especially this weekend," Ang explained.
“My honest opinion is we will really need at least until February," the SMC President reitersted. "And that is what we are asking government. To allow us to retain even just a few cash lanes until February.”
“Majority of lanes at toll plazas can be ETC, because anyway, the tollway operators have complied and equipped all lanes for cashless transactions," he proposed.
"We can then assign some lanes for continued stickering, and at least one lane for cash payments.
This is in case traffic builds up due to long lines at stickering lanes.
Some motorists can still opt to pay in cash, and just have their sticker installed on their next trip,” he added.
The government’s decision to extend the deadline—originallly set for November 2, to December 1—and its subsequent decision to not fully enforce penalties until after January 11, was “the right call.”
However, the increase in applications from non-regular users of expressways trying to beat the December deadline, is one of the main reasons lines remain long at sticker installation sites along with strict distancing protocols.
“As the DOTr itself said, there really is no need to panic if you are a non-regular user of expressways. Even with the scheduled implementation on December 1, motorists with no stickers will not be apprehended. Also, stickering will continue at the toll plazas and installation sites. In fact, these will continue even after January,” he emphasized.
“But given that many motorists still want to get their stickers as soon as possible, I think we can still accommodate them," he noted..
"For those unable to get theirs, I think we won’t lose anything by providing them some consideration. We hope government will study this option carefully. At the end of the day, we will abide by what they say,” Ang concluded.