SMC: RFID lanes reach 85% penetration rate

Published February 16, 2021, 4:08 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

Although cash lanes continue to operate, cashless electronic toll collection for motorists using both the Skyway and the South Luzon Expressway surged 85 per cent, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) today (February 16, 2021) reported.

Better yet, Autosweep RFID toll collection improved traffic throughput at its toll plazas.

SMC operates the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR), South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), the Skyway System, NAIA Expressway, and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX).

SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang

“We’re no longer seeing the kind of lines we used to have when majority of motorists were using cash payments,” confirmed SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang.

“Since December, through January and February, there has been a big improvement in traffic throughput at almost all our toll plazas, as majority of motorists used electronic toll collection.”

“Apart from minimizing the risk of COVID-19, the cashless system provides more convenience for motorists now that more people are coming back to work and the economy is reopening gradually,” he added.

The government’s mandate to shift to fully cashless toll collection was supposed to take full effect last January 11.

However, transport officials deferred the deadline to allow more motorists, particularly non-regular users of tollways and those living in far-off provinces, ample time to avail of free RFID stickers.

For this reason, cash lanes are still available at expressways.

However, at major toll plazas, such as the Calamba toll gate, where a large volume of motorists still use cash, traffic congestion continues to be a regular occurrence.

In a significant number of cases, RFID motorists with no load or insufficient load balance repeatedly use the electronic payment collection (ETC) lanes–holding up other motorists and causing traffic as well.

Recently, the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) announced a plan to implement a “Three-Strike Policy” for motorists who use ETC lanes with insufficient load credits to solve this problem.

The Department of Transportation (DoTR) and TRB are expected to release the policy’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) soon.

Under the three-strike policy, erring motorists will receive a reminder to load for the first offense, a warning for the second offense, and apprehension and pre-COVID penalties for those who commit the offense for the third time.

SMC will comply with TRB’s new policy as its system is able to monitor repeat offenders according to Ang.

Todate, SMC operates 160 Autosweep RFID stickering stations across different locations, from its own Autosweep RFID Center officers, toll plaza, malls, government offices, transport terminal hubs, and car dealerships.