SAN MIGUEL Corp. (SMC) has rolled out a program that will eliminate the multiple toll stops within South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR), and Metro Manila Skyway System.

Starting Thursday, the usual five stops for southbound vehicles traversing the expressways will be cut down to just two — the entry and exit points.

The program is expected to reduce travel time along the three expressways. It is part of the company’s efforts of minimizing traffic and enhancing motorists’ user experience along its tollways.

“With this, we can make trips for motorists faster, more seamless, and less stressful, as they will no longer need to endure long queues at multiple toll plazas within the expressways,” SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said in a press release.

The seamless tollways program will be implemented for southbound traffic on Dec. 1, while it will be implemented on Dec. 15 for northbound traffic.

“The same will be implemented for northbound traffic, which currently [motorists] have to make toll stops at the Sto. Tomas main plaza, SLEX Greenfield, the Skyway main plaza in Alabang, and then the Skyway 3 exit,” SMC said.

When implemented, all toll plazas for northbound traffic will be pass-through and payment stops will only be at the Skyway main plaza and the exit point.

The program will add up the total fees the motorists used to pay, including fees in the eliminated toll stops.

“Some motorists may find this confusing at first, and they might wonder why the toll fee is ‘higher’. This may even lead to traffic buildup at some exit points as some motorists will inevitably take longer to make inquiries,” Mr. Ang said.

“We want to make sure, as much as we can, that all motorists understand that there are no toll fee increases, and that we still also have to pay for use of the various expressways. It’s just that all the remaining payments will be collected in one go at the exit,” he added.

In the press release, SMC quoted Department of Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista as saying, “This is a welcome development for so many of our countrymen who will be heading home to the provinces this December. Usually, our expressways experience the heaviest traffic, particularly in the weeks leading up to Christmas.”

“Beyond the holidays, this initiative will make the transportation of people and goods to and from Southern Luzon provinces much faster and more efficient, with no impact or change in toll rates,” he added. — Justine Irish D. Tabile