SMC, which operates the the STAR Tollway, South Luzon Expressway, Skyway and Tarlar-Pangasinan-La UnionExpessway, said the cashless toll collection was mandated by government as a measure to eliminate physical contact and exchange of physical money amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Government is implementing this as a safety measure. We will not make money out of it… It is not a means to extract more revenue from motorists, ” Ang said.
He said the company is shouldering the additional costs for for the unplanned implementation of 100% electronic toll collection—including additional manpower, new machines to upgrade all lanes at toll plazas, as well as the sourcing of cards and stickers to be given for free to millions of motorists.
“Like many who felt unprepared for the long queues at stickering stations to get their RFID stickers, we were also not fully prepared to implement 100% cashless transactions in just a matter of months,” he added.
Ang said all SMC toll plazas are now fully compliant and RFID-ready with its system having a 98% read rate and a detection range of up to five meters resulting in faster and more reliable throughput at toll plazas.
SMC has also increased the number of RFID-equipped lanes at its toll plazas and stickering stations to further encourage more motorists to shift to electronic toll collection.
However, he admitted a shortage in RFID stickers due to the sudden large demand.
” We do not just “print” stickers. These are especially ordered from foreign suppliers, who also have manpower and production limitations due to pandemic restrictions in their respective countries. This has led to limited and staggered deliveries,” Ang said.
” From our original 53 stickering stations, we now have 94 total existing and active stations at our toll plazas, gas stations, customer service centers, and at least one in a transport terminal hub,” he said.
Ang said they hope to increase this further to 156 sites before the end of the year.
“Currently on process are 62 more, including additional gas stations, transport terminals, LGU municipal halls, LTO offices, church parkings, university areas, and major arenas. All in all, we’re looking at a total 156 outlets.