RFID for the expressways has been a hot topic for the last couple of weeks.

While November 2 deadline for the government's mandate for cashless transactions along major tollways has been moved to December 1, many motorists are still lining up to get either the Easytrip RFID to handle most of their northern drives and the AutoSweep RFID for access to southern expressways.

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So yes, the lines have been quite long, but more so last Friday when it was reported that the queue for an AutoSweep RFID at the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) C5 toll plaza was exceptional. The line for the RFID tag was backed up significantly into C5.

Nelly Argota, the head of RFID Operations for SMC Infrastructure Tollways, explained that there were two reasons behind what happened. The first is that they did not expect an influx of 53 big trucks all needing an RFID. As we can imagine, each truck occupies significant real estate on the road, backing up traffic; and all these trucks needed fleet AutoSweep accounts.

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C-5 RFID installation queue last Friday (10/23/20) courtesy Nelly Argota

Normally, SMC's RFID Operations visit fleet accounts (i.e. trucking companies) in order to install RFID tags on all their vehicles to avoid congestion at toll booths. But in this instance, it looks like the companies that sent over 53 trucks didn't want to bother waiting given the deadline. Now that the deadline has been moved, such situations can be prevented. 

The second issue was an unforeseen complication: more and more motorists are going for the more time-consuming version of AutoSweep which is Premium.

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As SMC's Head of RFID Operations explained, there are two kinds of AutoSweep RFID accounts: AutoSweep Premium and AutoSweep To Go.

AutoSweep Premium is the more customized version that allows a motorist to link their AutoSweep RFID to a credit card or a company account for automated crediting and billing. This version, however, has some required documents and verification because, well, you're dealing with credit cards. That in itself takes more time, explains Argota.

AutoSweep To Go is the prepaid variant, meaning you load it in the same way you would a mobile phone sim card such as through online payments, GCash, and 7-Eleven, among others. This is the version that requires no documents; motorists just need to fill out a form. AutoSweep staff will just need to evaluate whether to use the windshield RFID sticker or the headlight RFID sticker. According to Argota, the process should take around 3 to 5 minutes.

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She observed that recently, there has been a surge of motorists that want the Premium version instead of the To Go version. Argota said it was ironic; when AutoSweep was originally launched a few years ago as the documents-required version, many motorists requested a document-free version, and hence AutoSweep To Go was introduced. But now the situation is reversed; with a To Go version available, more motorists are requesting the Premium version.

Argota gave a tip though: Motorists can get the AutoSweep To Go for now and be able to drive on the expressways hassle-free. If more motorists opted for that version now, everyone can get their RFIDs quicker.

Later on if the motorist wants to upgrade to Premium they can upgrade their AutoSweep To Go by visiting one of SMC's Customer Service Centers on the expressways. And the best part is that it can all be done after this panic-level surge in demand for RFID subsides.