When San Miguel Corporation (SMC) started collecting toll fees on Skyway Stage 3 last July 12, most people expected traffic to free up along the elevated expressway. The cost of using Skyway 3 isn't cheap either (PHP 264 end-to-end). It's also why EDSA, C-5, and other major thoroughfares experienced heavy traffic again.

Unfortunately, the opposite happened. Instead of traffic freeing up on Skyway Stage 3, it actually got worse - some even equated it to "Carmageddon". Traffic was backed up for several kilometers, and it's all because of the toll booths. According to Nelly Argota of SMC Infrastructure Tollways, there were four factors behind the traffic. The heavy traffic on Skyway 3 also caught the attention of SMC president Ramon S. Ang.

“It’s unfortunate that many motorists were caught in traffic last Monday. We apologize for the inconvenience. While this was not totally unexpected on the first day of toll collection, for our part, we know we have to do better. Hopefully, with the measures we put in place, traffic conditions will continue to improve and normalize. Our Skyway teams are always on the ground, and we monitor our expressways via cameras 24/7. If there’s any issue, we can respond and make corrective measures very quickly,” said Ang.

To manage the traffic flow along Skyway 3, SMC has deployed more personnel for traffic management, toll collection, and AutoSweep RFID installation. More lanes for AutoSweep RFID installation and reloading have been opened as well. To guide unfamiliar motorists, more signs have been installed. These include ones that say toll fees are now being collected.

Meanwhile, motorists with no RFID sticker (who insist on paying in cash or have insufficient balance) are asked to exit the toll booth and park on the side as not to inconvenience existing RFID users. Subsequently, they will be given the option to have RFID tags installed or reloaded or outright pay in cash.

Since these additional measures have been implemented, traffic flow has reportedly been smoother starting Tuesday, the second day of toll collection. Traffic build-up at the Buendia exit during rush hour was significantly shorter, too: only up to about 200 meters. SMC adds that the majority of motorists using Skyway3 used RFID. Only a small percentage (4%) consisting of cash-paying motorists and users with insufficient load slowed down transaction times at toll plazas.

Props to SMC for quickly introducing new measures to improve traffic flow along Skyway 3. Hopefully, motorists will have RFID and load the next time they use Skyway 3 as not to hassle other motorists.