Thursday, September 07, 2006

E-pass Glitch

The reason we got an e-pass is to be able to pass through SLEX tollgate with ease as the computer electronically deducts the toll from the account of the motorist. In contrast, manual tollgate payment takes up more time because the motorist has to surrender the toll card first to the tollgate collector then it is swiped on the computer to determine the amount of toll fee. Payment is then handed over to the collector and if it is more than the allotted fee, the appropriate change is given. The collector then presses a button to release the horizontal bar to let the mororist pass.

These manual steps are conveniently skipped by an e-pass tag holder. There is one exclusive e-pass lane at the SLEX. You will not see anyone manning this booth because the computer takes care of every tollgate transaction. An e-pass tag with sufficient funds will register a green light and the horizontal bar automatically lifts to let the motorist pass. The computer also reminds the motorist if his e-pass is below the maintaining amount when it registers a yellow light. E-pass tags could easily be replenished in PNCC offices.

The exclusive e-pass lane is supposed to be a free flowing lane but this is not always the case. There are times when the traffic in this lane is stalled due to ignorant or abusive motorists. Some claim that they mistook the e-pass lane for a regular lane because it was their first time at SLEX. Others say that didn't see the tollgate header sign until it was too late. The rest, on the other hand, just try to squeeze their way through the e-pass lane to avoid the long queues on the regular lanes.

All it takes is one ignorant or inconsiderate bloke who wants to take advantage of the e-pass lane and it becomes a sea of irritated, horn-honking drivers. Since the e-pass lane is electronic, the horizontal bar will not lift as long as the toll fee remains unpaid. If a non e-pass holder attempts to access the lane, chaos! It has to be manually overridden in order to let the nuisance non e-pass holder pass through the tollgate.

As a matter of fact, we had the unfortunate time of witnessing an e-pass violator a while ago. It was an old red 1993 Mazda. It was infront of us on the said lane. We noticed that the horizontal bar did not go up when it was supposed to. Waited for a few seconds and as expected cars behind us starting blaring their horns as a protest to the hold up. A few more minutes and it became a horn frenzy. It took several minutes before an operator took hold of the situation. I saw the driver of the red car hand over a P500 bill to the operator. To my dismay, the money was handed back to the driver as is and the bar was lifted. Hey, that wasn't fair at all! He should have been given a warning to discourage a repeat action. The least that the traffic officials could have done was let the nuisance motorist pass to clear the obstruction and ordered him to stop at the side for a some reprimanding. But that was not the case. Imagine he caused traffic and then he was able to pass the tollgate without paying a cent!

How can people like him learn the importance of following the rules if he could always get away with his actions?

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