New Contactless Toll Collection dry run starts September 1, SMC bravely declares “We are ready”

As we well know by now, the dry run of the Contactless Toll Collection will start on September 1. For its part, San Miguel Corporation (SMC), who owns the concession for South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR), Skyway at-grade, and Skyways 1,2,3, the NAIA Expressway, and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), has openly said that they are ready for it. And this was from SMC’s head honcho himself, no less than Ramon S. Ang.

SMC toll expressways prepared for dry run of Contactless Toll Collection

Smc Ready For Contactless Toll Collection Inline 01 Min

Despite being held off for a long time, the full implementation of Contactless Toll Collection is inevitable. Issued in August 2020, DOTR’s Department Order 2020-012 mandated toll road concession holders to implement a cashless or contactless toll collection system to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, all while speeding up traffic flow at the facilities. The said Department Order used Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and RA No. 8792 or the Electronic Commerce Act, respectively, as the basis for its issuance.

January 2021 saw a subsequent addendum that instituted a transition period to the full cashless transaction program, with cash-accepting lanes maintained at toll plazas and exits. Come September 1, the Contactless Toll Collection dry run will begin and will be a taste of how expressway users will have to pay for their toll fees.

“We support the DOTr’s and the TRB’s move to make toll collection purely cashless. We believe this move will significantly reduce traffic congestion and waiting times at toll plazas and contribute to a smoother and safer travel experience,” said Ramon S. Ang, SMC President and CEO.

“Our teams are already installing and calibrating RFID scanners and related equipment. We will do everything necessary to ensure that the implementation will go smoothly. If in the course of the dry run period any adjustments have to be made, we will also be ready,” Ang added.

Smc Ready For Contactless Toll Collection Inline 03 Min

Photo: SMC

As planned, the implementation of the Contactless Toll Collection at different toll plazas will be done in batches. SMC has compiled this information for everyone’s convenience and you can refer to the image above for the dates on when new plazas will be added to the new no-contact collection. Batch 1 will start on September 1, Batch 2 on September 8, and Batch 3 on September 15, all 1 week in between each other.

Those who wish to enter but do not have Autosweep RFID tags installed will still be allowed to pass, but they must comply with toll personnel and install an RFID sticker on their vehicle so they can exit at the electronic toll collection (ETC) lane. A photo of the vehicle’s license plate, as well as the motorist’s mobile phone number, will be taken as well and must be consistent with and for the completion of their RFID registration.

Motorists who refuse to have RFID stickers on their vehicles, though, will have their license plates recorded and tagged and may be issued violation tickets for obstructing traffic.

Smc Ready For Contactless Toll Collection Inline 02 Min

Photo: SMC

The Contactless Toll Collection should not be a surprise to anyone. But everyone’s apprehensions are valid given the frequency of malfunctioning RFID tag readers at the toll plazas. The new Collection aims to make passage faster and more convenient, but it only takes one non-working reader to potentially back up the line, and that is what citizens are very concerned about. Add to that the concerns of those who don’t always take expressways who will now be “mandated” to install RFID tags and we have more apprehensions, comments, complaints, and violent reactions.

We sincerely hope that this all works according to plan. A plan is only as good as all of its individual facets and components, and we’d hate to see intentions of convenience go to waste because of faulty machines.

We shall leave you to it, SMC! Please, make this work.

Mikko Juangco
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