San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is installing a hundred additional installation sites for motorists wanting to avail of free radio frequency identification (RFID) stickers
Motorists can still avail of free RFID stickers even after the December 1 implementation of cashless toll collection
San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is putting up 100 additional installation sites to cater to the increased number of motorists wanting to avail of free radio frequency identification (RFID) stickers before the December 1 implementation of cashless toll collection on Luzon expressways.
SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang made the announcement after the company noted a larger-than-expected spike in applications, particularly from non-regular users hoping to beat the November 30 deadline to install Autosweep RFID stickers.
Autosweep is the cashless payment service SMC utilizes for its expressways.
Cashless toll collection is mandated to be implemented by December 1 pursuant to Department of Transportation (DOTr) Department Order 2020-012, which was issued to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease and facilitate passage on expressways.
Under the order, DOTr-attached agency Toll Regulatory Board should ensure that toll operators install electronic tags or other cashless systems for all motorists and motor vehicles using the expressways, and transact only through cashless payment.
While Ang emphasized that motorists will still be able to get Autosweep RFID stickers even after the implementation has started, SMC is also rolling out measures to accommodate the large volume of applications.
Among these measures are:
- Further increasing manpower and equipment to fast-track the pre-enrollment and pre-activation of new Autosweep kits
- Extending installation hours within the carriageway to 24 hours, seven days a week. This includes the Skyway Runway Plaza, Old Ninoy Aquino Expressway (NAIAX) toll plaza, C5 toll plaza and Nichols and Calamba toll plazas.
- Activating 100 new installation sites immediately, as soon as the expected bulk delivery of RFID stickers is received
- Increasing tag allocation at the 52 existing sites
- Increasing offsite installation in barangays, villages, etc.
Ang added that once enough additional installation sites have been opened, the current Autosweep Online Appointment system will be modified to accommodate requests to hold Autosweep RFID Caravans in local government units, villages and malls.
Autosweep stations will also again start accepting walk-in applicants, with strict implementation of safety and health protocols. Special handling will be provided for those who have already booked through online appointment.
The company is also expecting delivery of its RFID Mobile Wing Vans soon. These vans will enable Autosweep personnel to go to more areas to conduct installation activities.
Ang clarified that contrary to misconceptions, motorists can still avail of free RFID stickers even after the December 1 implementation of cashless toll collection. RFID installation in various locations will still be available after December 1, as will be the continuing programs to help motorists get stickers.
Installation issues addressed
Ang acknowledged the inconvenience many motorists have experienced in securing RFID stickers from tollways operators.
In the case of SMC tollways, the spike in applications, coupled with production and delivery issues with RFID tag suppliers due to the pandemic, has caused some of the issues.
Ang apologized to motorists for any inconvenience: “While our people are doing their best, and have been able to cater to majority of users, we also know that for many, it has been an unpleasant experience.”
“We ask for your continued patience as we transition to a cashless mode and help further contain the spread of the virus and protect our motorists,” Ang said.
He added that SMC’s infrastructure unit saw a huge spike in applications in October, as the initial November 2 implementation set by government approached.
When implementation was moved a month later to December 1, the company then experienced a larger-than-expected volume of applications from non-regular users of its expressways— Southern Tagalog Arterial Road, South Luzon Expressway, Skyway System, NAIAX, and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway.
In addition, RFID tag suppliers experienced production and manpower limitations and a shortage of chip components, largely due to the pandemic, which delayed and staggered deliveries of RFID stickers.
And since SMC’s Autosweep system can be enrolled in Metro Pacific Tollways’ (MPTC) Easytrip toll collection system, many subscribers are opting to avail of Autosweep for use on both SMC and MPTC tollways. This has further contributed to the larger volume of applications.
“Nevertheless, we are determined to make improvements and our people have actually been working on these solutions so we can better serve everyone,” Ang assured.
MPTC, which operates North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, Manila-Cavite Expressway, C5 Link, and Cavite-Laguna Expressway, earlier said it will utilize an online reservation and appointment system to provide motorists another means to get their Easytrip RFID stickers.