SKYWAY STANDSTILL | If Mayon has moved to Naga, is Skyway the new EDSA?

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Twitter user Miguel de Guzman shared this photo of his Skyway experience on January 29.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The internet was ablaze Monday as angry motorists lambasted the Skyway management for the humongous traffic jams caused by its opening of new toll booths supposed to “facilitate faster toll collection” but which got people stuck for hours, including those catching flights at NAIA Terminal 3.

As if it expected the mess its new system would create, Skyway management distributed leaflets to the expressway’s users a few days before Jan. 27, when the new system took effect and the toll booths were unveiled.

“We apologize in advance for any delay this adjustment to a new system might cause — particularly in the first few days of implementation,” said the flyer handed out by toll booth clerks late last week.

The jams were apparent on Saturday, the first day the system was introduced, but on Monday, being a work day, the anger swelled as the Skyway users queued for hours.

Stop at 2 booths, not just 1

With the new system, Skyway users must now stop by two toll booths, instead of one, even though they have already paid toll at the first one. When they reach the new toll booths (just before the ramp for turning left to NAIA 3), they must surrender the second slip, with a “QR” code, which now comes attached to the thermal receipt.

Most Skyway users who have been used to the far simpler and faster system, particular those who enter the Skyway from the last segment for the northbound, at Bicutan, were disgusted because from just the average 11 minutes it takes them daily from Bicutan to Makati, the trip takes a minimum of 30 minutes.

The greatest insult to one motorist, whose noontime trip took 40 minutes, was staring down at EDSA and seeing cars zipping through it.

“Naku, kung lumipat na ang Mayon sa Naga, lumipat na rin ang EDSA sa Skyway?” remarked the motorist, in a bid to make light of a situation that had sparked rants all around on a hot day.

Those coming from farther south had worse stories to tell.

One woman from Lipa, Twitter user @duchannesgirl, said the new system had added two hours to her trip.

CNN host Anthony Pangilinan fretted on Twitter about missing his flight at NAIA3.

@marcissy added that “Whoever decided to put the tollgate in the middle of the Skyway deserves an award for ‘genius’ of the year.”

@maegango12 had this to say after going through the Skyway: “If you ever feel stupid, just remember no one is dumber than the one who thought this new Skyway toll fee system was a smart idea.”

@john_rcg tweeted the Skyway’s account asking them to explain their logic. “This is an added chokepoint. Imagine all the vehicles using Skyway northbound from Bicutan, Sucat, Alabang/South station, funneling to 7-lane toll plaza. What were you thinking????”

@CALSmemaybe said it with a meme:

@joroquinto said it with sarcasm.

“Good job @SkywaySOMCO,” @manong tweeted. “Not only is it traffic northbound because of the world’s most pointless and redundant toll, now even southbound is traffic because there’s only one lane along Bicutan Exit because of the counterflow.”

Miguel de Guzman shared photos and a video of the massive traffic jam he and many others had to endure.

‘Faster service’ promised

Ironically, Skyway O&M Corporation had billed the change – presented by what it billed “the new Runway Toll Plaza” – as something that meant better service.

“The new toll plaza will facilitate faster toll collection on the skyway’s elevated section. It consists of two toll plazas:

• Runway A – with four cash lanes and up to five tellers per lane – is dedicated to cash payments.

• Runway B, with three lanes, is dedicated to the faster Electronic Toll (ETC) system.”

A vehicular counterflow was allowed for ETC users.

The jam involves mostly those who pay “CASH,” but who represent most of Skyway’s customers. That’s because the Runway Toll Plaza processes cash payments for vehicles coming from Laguna and Filinvest, thus lumping them with vehicles coming from Bicutan (Doña Soledad), Sucat (Dr. A. Santos) and Alabang-Zapote (Bunye) — these people have already paid upon entry from their respective points, and yet have to join the long queue to surrender their QR-coded stub.

Skyway users who took to social media to vent were all puzzled by the logic of the new system, which promised a “faster” toll collection system but made life miserable for them.

In closing, the Skyway flyer in advance of the Runway Toll Plaza inauguration said, “we continue to find ways to improve efficiency of our existing road system and serve you better.”

Enough said. Maybe they’re right: Skyway traffic will DECREASE, because people will avoid using it.

“JAM” is not just the name of a bus line, but the result of a “new, faster” toll collection system described by netizens as conceived by a “moron.” Photo by Lourdes Fernandez, InterAksyon.