The deadline has officially been reached for expressway operations to shift to a fully cashless system. The result is that expressway is now only accepting payment via their own respective RFID-only systems. With many motorists without their RFID stickers, this has resulted in heavy traffic in and around expressway entrances.
It is important to remember that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has stated that until January 11, 2021, those that enter expressways without an RFID will still not be apprehended. With that in mind, both the San Miguel Corporation and the Metro Pacific Tollway Corporation have converted certain toll booths into RFID installation lanes. While done for the benefit of those who have yet to get their RFID stickers, this has, in turn, caused traffic in toll booths due to the long lines that have formed.
In the case of the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX), heavy traffic has built up in and around its major toll booths creating a chain effect for surrounding areas. Thanks to a live stream done by the corporation, long lines can be seen especially in the Balintawak arrester bed area, Mindanao avenue entrance, Karuhatan toll plaza entrance. While these entrances do have long lines once you get into the expressway itself, travel is smooth with little to light traffic in some areas.
The same cannot be said for the Southern tollways as the transition has been a lot smoother. While there was a build-up of vehicles in the Santo Tomas area, it only lasted an hour. Aside from this, there was no major traffic created by the shift to a fully cashless system. SMC did acknowledge, however, that lines were still long especially for those getting RFID at the toll booths themselves.
As this is the first day of the cashless system implementation we expect a similar situation to occur in the coming days. Motorists will encounter longer wait times and long queues as many are still lining up to get their RFID devices. Until more solutions have been found to meet the demand, traffic in and around these areas may still remain heavy.