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Skyway 3 traffic eases amid adjustment to toll collection snags

Skyway 3 traffic

MANILA – Skyway O&M, operator of the Skyway system and a unit under San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) SMC Infrastructure, expects more seamless movement along the new Skyway Stage 3 with the implementation of new measures to avoid congestion on access and exit points following the first day of toll collection on the elevated expressway.

These measures resulted in faster throughput of vehicles even at high-volume toll plazas just a day later.

“It’s unfortunate that many motorists were caught in traffic last Monday. We apologize for the inconvenience. While this was not totally unexpected on the first day of toll collection, for our part, we know we have to do better. Hopefully, with the measures we put in place, traffic conditions will continue to improve and normalize,” SMC president Ramon S. Ang said in a statement Wednesday.

Ang said that traffic throughput at toll plazas slowed down Monday primarily due to vehicles with insufficient load, as well as those availing of free radio frequency identification (RFID) sticker installation and re-loading onsite.

“Our Skyway teams are always on the ground, and we monitor our expressways via cameras 24/7. If there’s any issue, we can respond and make corrective measures very quickly,” he added.

Among the measures Skyway has since implemented are: deployment of more personnel for traffic management, toll collection, and Autosweep RFID sticker installation; opening of more lanes for Autosweep RFID installation and reloading; and installation of more signs to guide motorists who are unfamiliar with the expressway, its toll plazas, and the start of toll collection.

Motorists with no RFID stickers, who insist on paying in cash, or have insufficient balance are asked to exit the toll booth and park on the side so as not to inconvenience existing ETC users. They are given the option to have RFID tags installed or reloaded, or pay in cash.

Vehicles with no RFID or have insufficient balance are directed to Del Monte Toll Plaza B coming from Balintawak where they can have their RFID tags installed or reloaded.

Skyway O&M reported that traffic throughput at toll plazas was significantly better starting Tuesday, or the second day of toll collection.

For instance, traffic queues at the Buendia southbound exit, which only has two lanes and where there was significant buildup Monday, was considerably shorter at only up to 200 meters. This was observed only during rush hour starting at 8 am.

While the vast majority of motorists utilized electronic toll collection, a small percentage, or 4 percent, consisting of cash-paying motorists and users with insufficient load, slowed down transaction times at toll plazas.

The additional measures implemented have since addressed these issues, bringing about a smoother traffic flow.

Skyway 3 was soft-opened last December and has provided the public free unlimited use for nearly seven months, with SMC’s foregone revenues reaching PHP3 billion.

The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) had just recently issued a notice to start collecting toll to Skyway 3.

“Before, if you were stuck on NLEX or Quezon City and you were headed to Alabang or Makati, or vice-versa, motorists simply had no choice but to endure two to three hours of traffic. Today, with Skyway Stage 3, motorists can opt to use it for convenience and faster travel times. With more vehicles diverted to Skyway 3, there will be less congestion on Edsa, C-5, and other major thoroughfares, resulting in improved travel on our public roads,” Ang said.

SMC and TRB worked together to arrive at toll rates that are much lower than the original toll fee matrix, particularly for vehicles traveling shorter distances.

Apart from foregoing revenues for seven months, SMC had also deferred recovery of a significant portion of the right-of-way costs for the project in consideration of the economic impacts of the pandemic.

With Skyway Stage 3 now operating 24/7, SMC said that Autosweep sites along the elevated expressway are also open 24/7.

“I would like to request our motorists who have not yet availed of their free RFID stickers to please do so, and make sure they are activated with sufficient credit. This measure, which was pushed by (the) government last year, is for everybody’s safety and also for your convenience,” Ang said.

He said using RFID will ensure they have better, safer, and faster trips on the expressways.

“Also, as a reminder, please be conscious of which toll lanes you are using. Do not use ETC- only lanes if you have insufficient balance, as there are penalties that come with this. If you have insufficient balance, please use the assigned lanes for RFID installation or reloading. Most of all, please always show courtesy towards fellow motorists and tollways workers,” he added.

Site locations that offer RFID installation and reloading are from the south, Zobel northbound (After Entry), Quirino northbound exit, Nagtahan northbound exit, Quezon Ave. northbound entry, and Del Monte northbound toll plaza; and from the north, Del Monte southbound toll plaza, Quezon Ave. southbound entry and Plaza Dilao southbound entry.

Meanwhile, motorists are also advised to utilize the numerous Autosweep reloading platforms to avoid further delays while using the expressways.