On the afternoon of June 5, 2016, armed with my Transcend Drivepro DP220, we traversed through Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR Tollway) northbound from Ibaan to Sto. Tomas. At exactly 4:52 pm, just right after we passed the Tanauan exit, we hit the end of the long queue leading to the Sto. Tomas toll barrier.
What followed next was a good 3 kilometers of traffic at crawling speeds for 48 minutes (which translates to an average speed of 3.75 km/h). Finally, at 5:40 pm, we got to pay for our toll fee.
I’ve documented that ordeal in the video that follows. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go through the same 48 minutes to finish the video, as I cramped it to about 2.5 minutes.
Imagine a good 1 hour lost just making our way to pay for our toll due. Perhaps, other people spend more time than that in Metro Manila traffic, but for a much better purpose — to get home or even to get to where they wanted or needed to go. Moviegoers line up to watch their favorite movies. Heck, calamity victims wait in line to get their share of relief goods. Now, isn’t it absurd to line up in such a long time for something that you have to pay for?
Enough with the whining, what’s your solution?
It is long overdue for STAR Tollway management to employ Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system. Integrating with AutoSweep RFID system that’s currently used in the Ayala Greenfield Toll Plaza, South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Skyway would be a good start, as they constitute just one long stretch of road from Manila to Batangas City. I know, AutoSweep still has to deal with a lot of glitches in their RFID system, but let’s save that for another post.
Moreover, these toll barriers and plazas (Sto. Tomas Toll Barrier, the Ayala Greenfield Toll Plaza, and the Calamba Toll Plaza) should have already been eliminated in favor of one unified collecting system at the point of exit. These people need to work together for a better Philippines.
Lastly, these tollways should be regulated so that if you’re spending more than a certain number of minutes (e.g. 5 minutes) in the toll plaza, your toll should be free.
I went through STAR Tollway last weekend, and indeed they now have ETC system in place. The ETC system is managed by Autosweep, thus if you have Autosweep RFID installed, you can now breeze through toll plazas from C5/Skyway/Nichols to Batangas City.