Have you ever been stuck behind a car at the toll gate because the RFID reader won’t recognize their tag? Well, been there, done that. Sometimes it's us that is causing the pile-up.
While tollway management has their work cut out for them to upgrade readers, fix antenna patterns, check antenna cables, and reduce electronic noise, we can certainly do our part to ensure that we pass through these barriers quickly and help reduce traffic build-up at the gates.
As someone who passes through the SLEX and the Skyway daily, here are a few tips to make your AutoSweep (or EasyTrip) experience a lot smoother.
1. It's About Load
This goes without saying: make sure you have load. It is just plain irresponsible to use the ETC (electronic toll collection) lane on the tollways without knowing if you have enough to pay for the fee.
There are apps being used by major tollway operators that allow you to check your load. If you don't have access to it (e.g. you borrowed a car) or if you are unsure, pass by the cash lane as it will allow you to pull over to the reloading area after the gate so you can put money into your account.
By the way, if you pass by an ETC lane without load, there's a good chance they will apprehend you for it. To avoid that, better make sure you load up days before a trip, not just hours before.
2. It's About Space
Drive closer to the toll booth. The readers are positioned on the left side (for AutoSweep) so the farther you are from it, the harder it will be to read your tags. Works for me 99% of the time.
Also, avoid tailgating the vehicle in front of you. If you follow too close, the RFID reader may get confused, causing a delay.
3. It's About Speed
In other countries, you can drive through the toll gate faster because they have a more "active" type of RFID transponder that transmits to the reader. In the Philippines, that's not the case because the RFID type used is a "passive" sticker/tag.
Slow down to a crawl when you're approaching the gate to give the reader time to recognize the tag and lift the barrier. Be prepared to stop if necessary.
4. It's About Cleanliness
It goes without saying that any tag can be disrupted, and that goes for dirt too. Before heading out, check to see if there is mud or dirt obstructing the tags. These can disrupt the signal emitted by your tags at the gate so wipe it off.
5. It's About Contingencies
Always bring your RFID card and have it at the ready like in your sunglass holder or sunvisor. If there's some issue, the teller can scan it to check if your balance is sufficient to use the tollway. If your arms are long enough you can reach out and tap the reader next to the window.
If you whip out some cash, expect somebody to blow their horn (or top) at your incompetence.
Remember, the tollways are our only relief from traffic (most of the time), so let’s do our teeny-weeny part to make entry and exit as seamless as possible. Always keep your account topped up, or better yet, link it with your bank so you will never run out of load.
Nobody likes to drive up to a long queue at the toll gate, and if you fulfill your part by following all of the above, I can guarantee you won’t be part of the problem.