MANILA – San Miguel Corporation (SMC) reported that traffic along its expressways and toll plazas on Tuesday was generally smooth on the first morning of implementation of the government’s mandate for 100-percent cashless toll collection.
The company reported as of 10:45 a.m., traffic at the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Tollway, Southern Luzon Expressway, the Skyway System, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (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 radio frequency identification (RFID) installation lanes.
These, however, 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 percent cashless toll collection. Based on up-to-date reports we have been receiving and the 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,” SMC president Ramon Ang said in a statement.
“There was a momentary buildup near Santo Tomas, Batangas, lasting only about an hour. 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.
Ang said 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 no apprehensions are to be made until Jan. 11, and 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 equipped 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. 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 installation sites. It’s for them that we are asking (the) 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,” he said.
Ang said that by February 2021, the majority of motorists will be able to secure their stickers and SMC will continue issuing free stickers.
“We will still retain sticker installation sites and lanes. We will also bring stickers to more villages and barangays via our mobile Autosweep program. If there is no urgent need for motorists to travel and use the expressways yet, we advise you that there is no need to panic. You can avoid the lines and the hassle, and still get your sticker at a more convenient time,” Ang added. (PR)