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SMC tollways to go 100% cashless by Jan. 11

San Miguel Corp. has reached its target of 156 radio frequency identification stations last December 29, as its expressways gear up for cashless toll collections next week.

“We’re no longer seeing long lines at the stations. We will continue to serve and accommodate all motorists wanting to install their free Autosweep stickers as we approach the January 11 full implementation of cashless toll collection on all expressways set by (the) government and even after that,” SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said.

SMC, which operates the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road Tollway, South Luzon Expressway, Skyway, NAIA Expressway, and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, said it converted all but one of its 66 dedicated “onsite” or toll plaza stations into 24/7 stickering stations.

It also now operates nine RFID centers, 18 gas station installation sites, 11 local government and Land Transportation Office sites, and 44 mall sites.

It also has stickering sites in three major transportation terminal hubs, two home builders depots, and three showrooms.

Eleven out of 156 installation sites are by appointment to manage traffic congestion in the areas.

Ang said the opening of more “off-site” stickering stations, including those in malls and government offices, was a key part of the company’s strategy to reach more non-regular users of its toll roads, concentrated mostly in the south.

It may be recalled that a surge in non-regular expressway users trying to beat the government’s deadline, along with a shortage of RFID stickers –manufactured by suppliers abroad who also had to contend with pandemic restrictions in their countries– contributed to long lines experienced in October and November last year.

The SMC chief said while the company is expecting an uptick in RFID installation towards the end of January 11, the company is confident there would no longer be long lines similar to the ones experienced previously, as the government’s original deadline, and the extended deadline approached.

“With the amount of stickers we have already issued over the past few months, particularly from November through December when we started increasing the number of stations, coupled with now 156 total RFID stations that are well spread out through Metro Manila and neighboring cities and provinces, we see no major problems in serving the remaining number of motorists without stickers yet,” he said.

“But, of course, we want to reiterate that our installation activities will continue even after January 11. There is no need to panic and rush to the stations. We will retain our installation activities and even expand programs to reach villages and barangays,” he added.