Friday, January 15, 2021

SMC To Open 100 Add’l RFID Installation Sites In North And South To Meet Surge In Demand

SMC To Open 100 Add’l RFID Installation Sites In North And South To Meet Surge In Demand

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To cope with the increased number of motorists wanting to avail of free Autosweep RFID stickers before the December 1 full implementation of cashless toll collection at major expressways, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) said it is putting up 100 additional RFID installation sites, among many other measures, to cater to motorists from both southern and northern Metro Manila and beyond.

According to SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang, the company had noted a larger-than-expected spike in applications, particularly from non-regular users hoping to beat the deadline.

While Ang emphasized that motorists will still be able to get RFID stickers even after the implementation of the government mandate for cashless transactions, SMC is implementing measures to accommodate the large volume of applications.

Among these 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 NAIAX toll plaza, C5 toll plaza and Nichols and Calamba toll plazas.

• Activation of 100 new installation sites immediately, as soon as the expected bulk delivery of RFID stickers are received.

• Increasing tag allocation at the 52 existing sites

• Increasing offsite installation at 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 Caravan in LGUS, villages and malls.

Autosweep stations will again start accepting walk-in applicants, with strict implementation of safety and health protocols. Special handling will be provided for those who already booked through online appointment.

The company is also expecting delivery soon of its RFID Mobile Wing Vans. These will enable Autosweep personnel to go to more areas and conduct installation activities.

Ang clarified that contrary to the misconception of some motorists, they can still avail of free RFID stickers even after the December 1 implementation of cashless toll collection.

“Although vehicles without RFID will no longer be allowed to travel on tollways beginning December 1, we will still have RFID installation in various locations, as well as continuing programs for motorists to get stickers. We will also maintain installation sites at major entry plazas. You can still secure stickers at a more convenient time, even after the deadline,” Ang said.

Ang also acknowledged the inconvenience that 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 from RFID tag suppliers due to the pandemic, have caused some of the issues.

“I would like to apologize to our 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.

Ang added that SMC’s Infrastructure unit saw a huge spike in applications in October, as the initial November 2 implementation set by government, approached. With the implementation moved to Dec. 1, they then experienced a larger-than-expected volume of applications from non-regular users of its expressways—STAR, SLEX, Skyway, NAIAX, and TPLEX.

In addition, RFID tag suppliers said they experienced production and manpower limitations and a shortage of chip components, largely due to the pandemic. This resulted in delayed and staggered deliveries of RFID stickers.

Also, given that SMC’s Autosweep system has the capability to be enrolled in Metro Pacific Tollways’ Easytrip toll collection system, many subscribers are opting to avail of Autosweep, so they can use it for 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 said.

In particular, Ang committed to put up more installation sites in the north, given the huge increase in applications from non-regular users from the north who want to secure their free stickers.

“Traditionally, because most of our expressways—SLEX, STAR, SKYWAY, NAIAX—are in the south, the vast majority of our users are in the south. However, we have received so many inquiries, requests, and applications from non-regular users in the north, so we are increasing the number of installation sites there,” Ang said.

“Our main objective is to serve as many motorists as possible, in the most efficient way we can. We thank our motorists, and ask for their consideration, patience, and cooperation. Sama-sama, magtulungan po tayo,” he added.

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