San Miguel Corporation (SMC) today (Dec. 1) reported “generally smooth” traffic along its expressways and toll plazas on the first morning of their 100% cashless toll collection.
As of 10:45 AM, traffic at the STAR Tollway, Southern Luzon Expressway, the Skyway System, NAIA Expressway, and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) was generally “smooth and peaceful”, though there were still steady queues of vehicles at assigned Autosweep RFID installation lanes.
However, the queues did not contribute to any major or sustained traffic gridlock in and out of the expressways, and did not affect motorists who were already using the electronic toll collection lanes.
“As we announced recently, all our expressways are fully equipped to comply with the government mandate for 100% cashless toll collection,” according to SMC president Ramon S. Ang.
“Based on up-to-date reports we have been receiving and live footage from our CCTV monitoring systems, we did not have any major problems at our expressways this morning–the first day of implementation, which is also the first working day coming from a long weekend,” he elaborated.
“There was a momentary buildup near Sto. Tomas, Batangas, lasting only about an hour ” Ang noted.
“We also had the usual lines at RFID installation lanes, but these were within normal levels and did not cause major traffic for other motorists at the carriageways and the toll plazas,” he added.
The smooth flow of traffic can be attributed to the fact that most regular users of the southern expressways have already secured their Autosweep RFID stickers and were already using electronic toll collection lanes with ease.
The company’s system also allows for scanning of RFID stickers up to five meters, resulting in faster and more reliable throughput at toll plazas.
However, many non-regular have still not been able to secure their RFID stickers, as evidenced by continuous long lines at sticker installation stations, which started spiking in October through November.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has since eased its policy, saying that no apprehensions are to be made until January 11, and that the tollways may practice leniency for motorists that still do not have RFID stickers.
In the weeks leading up to the implementation, SMC announced several measures, including the opening of 100 additional sticker installation sites, to help accommodate the surge in applications.
Ang recently also asked the DOTr to consider extending the deadline for full implementation to February.
“As we said, all our expressways and our toll plazas are fully quipped and ready. I think most of our regular motorists are also ready and are in fact benefitting already from faster and safer throughput at toll plazas,” he acknowledged.
“But we still have so many motorists that have not secured their RFID stickers, as we can see from the continuous high volume of applications at installations sites. It’s for them that we are asking government for a little more consideration.”
“We can also better avoid panic and crowding at installation sites. It’s physical contact that we are guarding against, after all, with this cashless toll collection measure.”
“I think by February 2021, most or majority of motorists will be able to secure their stickers ” he concluded.