The leadership of the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) announced that they will implement the government’s “Three-Strike Policy” to motorists who will use the ETC lanes with insufficient load credits.
SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang said that their system can monitor repeat offenders.
The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) bared the plan earlier, and is expected to release the policy’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) soon. The said policy is expected to curb disruption at the toll lanes and avoid inconvenience for those who comply with the cashless payment system.
Reports told that based on the forthcoming policy, motorists who do not have sufficient credits who use the toll booth will receive a reminder to load for the first offense, a warning for the second offense, and apprehension and pre-COVID penalties for those who commit the offense for the third time.
In line with this, SMC reiterated they are offering various ways to top-up their accounts and currently have 160 Autosweep RFID stickering stations across different locations.
Motorists can choose to reload at any of the Autosweep Point-of-Sales, SMC Toll Gates, and accredited Merchant Reloading partners across the whole Luzon area, as well as over-the-counter reloading in several retail outlets like Petron Treats, Savemore, SM Bills Pay and SM Business Services; SM Hypermarket, Waltermart, 7-Eleven, Shopwise and Shopwise Express, Family Mart, Rustan’s, Robinsons Department Store and Robinson’s Supermarkets; The Marketplace, Wellcome supermarket, as well as payments centers Expresspay, Tambunting, LBC, Bayad Centers, and RD pawnshops.
Motorists may also opt to reload online through partner banks such as Bank of Commerce, BPI, Union Bank, China Bank, Maybank, and popular gateways G-Cash, Pay Maya, Eon, Coins.ph, and Justpay.To. Self-service reloading is also available via Touchpay, ECPay, and E-Tap.
SMC-operated tollways such as NAIA Expressway (NAIAX), South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) tollway, and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) will continue to offer a lane for cash-paying motorists at its toll plazas—but will only last until the imposition of the full Cashless Program.
“With all these efforts, I hope our motorists will find it much easier to comply with government mandate and shift to the much safer and faster system of electronic toll collection. We will continue to work to make necessary adjustments and improvements to support government initiatives and ensure that motorists will have better, safer journeys on our expressways,” Ang said.
Relatedly, SMC reported that cashless electronic toll collection for motorists who use both the Skyway and the South Luzon Expressway has increased to 85 percent, despite the continuing availability of cash lanes.
According to them, “higher utilization of Autosweep RFID toll collection has significantly improved traffic throughout toll plazas.”
“Since December, and even through January and February, there has been a big improvement in traffic throughput at almost all our toll plazas, as majority of motorists have followed government’s safety protocol of using electronic toll collection. We’re no longer seeing the kind of lines we used to have when majority of motorists were using cash payments,” the SMC chief explained.
“So apart from minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19, especially now that there are new variants, the cashless system is also providing more convenience and ease of travel for motorists, especially now that more people are coming back to work and the economy is reopening gradually. This is definitely a big benefit to motorists,” he added.
However, Ang revealed that they are still experiencing traffic congestion at major toll plazas such as the Calamba toll gate, where there are still a large volume of motorists using cash. He attributed such build-up to motorists who are paying cash that tend to block RFID users.
Photos from Ruben D. Manahan IV, San Miguel Corporation