Long weekend, new applicants among reasons for long lines at toll gates

December 1 marked the first day of the country implementing the cashless toll rule, and it wasn't without hitches. Those who headed in and out of the Metro were faced with long lines and the subsequent traffic jams as a result. Now, the nation's toll road operators explain why that was the case.

Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation and San Miguel Corporation both attributed the congestion to the long weekend and the resulting increase in traffic volume. Because of that, both saw over one million exit transactions that day. But there are also other reasons for yesterday's “tollmagedon”, and it's because of motorists that held up the line.

Bogging down the lanes were those who traveled with no or insufficient load in their RFID tags. According to MPTC Vice President for Operations Management West D. Dionisio, there were over 35,000 motorists who were at the toll with little to no load in the northern expressways. Each of them needed assistance and a load top-up on-site, and that can't be done in a matter of seconds. Some MPTC North tolls were even forced to accept cash payments to get the line moving. There were also thousands requesting RFID tags, which slowed down the cues.

Another factor contributing factor was motorists applying for RFID tags right at the toll gate instead of the stickering lanes. That said, all toll gates can accommodate requests to install RFID tags, regardless of where the driver is lined up. That service will continue until January 11, 2020. By that time, those without RFID tags must drive through designated stickering lanes first before continuing their journey on the expressway.

With cashless tolls being the norm, both expressway operators saw a surge of first-time users. With thousands asking how it works, MPTC and SMC needed to answer each inquiry, which takes a little bit more time. There were also motorists insisting the toll road personnel to stick on these stickers in their preferred spot. However, motorists cannot be too choosy about the tag's location, as there are some areas of the vehicle that their respective scanners cannot read. System issues also played a part in yesterday's long cues, although MPTC says only a small percentage was affected.

With all those factors combined, the DOTr made several suggestions to motorists who will drive along toll roads. First, they recommend topping up the load before they head out to keep the line moving as smoothly as possible. The DOTr also recommends getting these stickers installed at off-site facilities to alleviate the queues along the expressways.