SMC seeks extension of toll cash payment

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    San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has asked the government to allow cash payment at expressways until February.

    Ramon Ang, SMC president, has appealed to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to consider a further extension of the implementation of 100 percent cashless transactions at all expressways as applications for RFID (radio frequency identification) electronic toll collection stickers continue to mount. Ang assured the government all lanes at toll plazas of its expressways—Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Southern Luxon Expressway (SLEX) the Skyway System, NAIA Expressway, and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX)—are ready and fully equipped for the shift to 100 percent electronic toll collection by today, December 1.

    Ang said despite the company’s efforts to roll out additional measures to fast-track the installation of stickers—including opening 100 additional sticker installation sites and implementing 24 hours installation at major locations—the volume is just too much.

    Ang asked government to allow them to assign at least one lane for cash payment until February next year.

    “My honest opinion is we will really need at least until February. And that is what we are asking government. To allow us to retain even just a few cash lanes until February,” Ang said.

    “Majority of lanes at toll plazas can be ETC (electronic toll collection), because anyway, the tollway operators have complied and equipped all lanes for cashless transactions. We can then assign some lanes for continued stickering, and at least one lane for cash payments.

    This is in case traffic builds up due to long lines at stickering lanes. Some motorists can still opt to pay in cash, and just have their sticker installed on their next trip,” Ang added.

    Ang said government’s decision to extend the deadline—originally set for November 2, to December 1—and its subsequent decision to not fully enforce penalties until after January 11, was “the right call.”

    In response, Goddess Hope Libiran, DOTr assistant secretary said: “We understand their sentiment, and that is precisely the reason why we have decided to implement a transition period from December 1 to January 11, and to still maintain RFID stickering lanes even after that. We think the net effect will still be the same.

    DOTr emphasized that there will be no apprehensions arrest or penalties, if a motorist does not have RFID installed on his vehicle even beyond December 1.

    However, DOTr mentioned earlier they will penalized motorists who has no RFID sticker yet pass through the RFID lane and cause traffic. DOTr said cash/stickering lanes will be maintained. In fact, all toll lanes may be converted into RFID stickering lanes starting December 1.

    This means that if you are a motorist whose vehicle is without an RFID sticker, and you will pass by the toll gate on December 1, one can be installed there. If not at the toll gate, you may acquire it at the installation site/tent right before or after the toll gate. Installation will be 24/7.

    And “RFID sticker installation will continue even beyond January, February, March, and so on.” DOTr said.