Have an RFID ready and other Skyway Stage 3 tips

Published January 1, 2021, 10:56 AM

by Inigo Roces

Easily the biggest news for motorists over the holidays was the highly anticipated opening of the Skyway Stage 3, the elevated expressway that speeds up travel between the north and south points of Metro Manila.

Bear in mind that, while the Skyway Stage 3 has been opened, it’s still on a partial basis. As such, many things we’ve come to expect from our modern expressways may still be lacking or are currently under construction.

1. Have your RFIDs ready

Easily the single most important requirement to be able to take the Skyway Stage 3 is an AutoSweep RFID sticker installed in your car. Granted, San Miguel Corporation, (SMC), concessionaire of the Skyway Stage 3 project, said it is toll free for a month. However, the Skyway Stage 3 already seamlessly connects to the other stages of the Skyway System which do charge tollways. You may be able to enter without one, however, you will need one to be able to pass through the tollgates and exit, whether it’s through NAIAX or SLEX. If you’re heading north, then you’ll need an Easytrip RFID to exit NLEX.

In fact, those headed northbound may find themselves passing through one of the rows of toll gates that is already completed. No need to worry as no toll is charged. However, you will need a sticker to activate the barrier.

2. Drive at the speed limit

Skyway Stage 3 is a very new road. This being the case, the asphalt, and concrete in some parts, is still quite new and dusty. It’s advisable to keep to SMC’s recommended speed limit of 60 km/h. Not to worry, the promised 18-20 minutes of travel time is still very possible at this speed.

It’s important to drive within the speed limit because the road has a mix of long straights and sudden very sharp curves. This is because the route passes through some main roads, and in some parts, over rivers. As such, the road can go from wide and straight to tight and twisty with little warning. In some parts, only a small portion of the roadway is used, this makes for some very narrow areas and sharp turns. In addition, there’s still quite a lot of road construction equipment, which can be dangerous hazards for inattentive drivers.

3. Know your exit

The Skyway Stage 3 makes clever and excellent use of space despite how congested Metro Manila is. That said, it’s important to keep an eye out for your exit if you don’t intend to travel from end to end.

We feel this is an important reminder because not all exits are open and not all of them are where you expect them to be. Being on an elevated road and seeing nothing but rooftops, it may be hard to recognize the usual landmarks. Instead, keep an eye out for signs that warn of upcoming exits.

For now, there are only nine entry and exit points along Skyway Stage 3. These are Buendia (Zobel) Northbound On Ramp; Buendia (Zobel) Southbound Off Ramp; Plaza Dilao Southbound On Ramp; Quezon Avenue Northbound and Southbound On Ramp; Quezon Avenue Northbound and Southbound Off Ramp; Balintawak Northbound Off Ramp; and the Balintawak Southbound On Ramp.

Exits like Buendia and Quezon Avenue may be familiar roads, however, bear in mind that these exits don’t land you exactly on these roads, but rather, the intersections just before them. For example, the Quezon Avenue exits are actually along G. Araneta Avenue approaching the Quezon Avenue intersection.

4. Drive courteously

Finally, and most importantly, drive courteously. The Skyway Stage 3 is still a relatively new road and while some may have driven through it a few times already, many will still be quite unfamiliar with it. As such, keep your cool and be considerate. Expect a few cars to hesitate when near exits, drive slower than usual, or possibly even unintentionally cut you off. After all, it can still be a bit confusing the first time.

5. Enjoy the drive

Easily the most important tip is to simply enjoy the drive. The Skyway Stage 3 is easily an engineering marvel, especially when you see how the roads snake through, over and under some of the tightest points in the city.

It also ends a little too soon. 18 minutes may seem like a long time, yet you’ll be surprised how quickly it goes by, especially when you suddenly find yourself on NLEX or SLEX sooner than you expect. Chances are, you’ll want to turn around and go for another drive.