RFID D-Day has arrived.
Earlier today, the two major expressway concessionaires -San Miguel and Metro Pacific- executed the order of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) making electronic toll collection (ETC) mandatory on major expressways via radio frequency identification (RFID) tags.
Over the last few months, both companies have labored to install as many AutoSweep (SMC – SLEX, Skyway, STAR Tollway, TPLEX, etc.) and EasyTrip (MPTC – NLEX, CAVITEX, SCTEX, CALAX, etc.) on vehicles plying the expressways in anticipation of the deadline that was originally slated for November 2 but was subsequently moved to December 1. Upon urging from the DOTr, both companies will continue to do in such an intensive and widespread manner -up to and including installation at the toll plazas- from today until January 11, 2021.
Many had expected for a “tollmageddon” to happen at all major expressways given the volume of motorists that still need to have RFIDs installed whilst in line at the toll plaza. There was heavy traffic over at the Balintawak toll plaza of the North Luzon Expressway as reported by various news outlets and motorists frustrated by the traffic which had also backed up and affected nearby roads.
But the story seems to be very different over at SMC's toll plazas, so much so that even their big boss, Ramon S. Ang or RSA, felt a sense of pride to post about it on his Facebook page.
“I would like to share with you that traffic at our expressways—Skyway, NAIAX, STAR, SLEX, and TPLEX—and toll plazas were generally smooth on the first day of the gov’t-mandated 100% cashless toll system implementation,” said RSA in his post. “Here are some CCTV shots at the Skyway main toll plaza taken at different times during rush hours. It was normal traffic like this at all major toll plazas.”
RSA, however, wasn't done yet. He wanted to let the motoring public that there were issues and said sorry to those that have had problems in procuring an AutoSweep RFID tag to enter SMC-operated tollways.
“Still, I would like to personally apologize to our motorists for the issues that have emerged over the recent weeks to date. I am requesting for the DOTr to extend the deadline to February for those who have yet to secure their RFID stickers in order to avoid panic and crowding. We are also opening more installation sites, to help accommodate the surge in applications.”
“I hear your frustrations. Please know that we are committed to doing everything we can to make things better, with your safety in mind. Maraming salamat po sa pag-unawa.” concluded the chief executive of San Miguel Corporation.