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20% SLEX, NLEX toll discount sought

February 09, 2011
MANILA, Philippines – Two Mindanao congressmen urged Congress yesterday to grant a 20-percent discount on private vehicles with at least four passengers using the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), Metro Manila Skyway, and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).

In filing House Bill 3932, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his brother Maximo, who represents the party-list group Abante Mindanao, said the discount would be timely in the wake of the impending huge increase in toll rates.

โ€œMotorists will be affected by the upcoming toll hikes in these major arteries connecting Metro Manila to southern and northern provinces now that the Supreme Court has given the go-signal for the regulatory body to proceed with increases ranging from 250 percent to 300 percent,โ€ they said.

โ€œAs such, to encourage carpooling and to help our motorists in absorbing the flow of the increased toll rates, there should be a discount given to private vehicles with at least four passengers on board,โ€ the two said.

โ€œThis would hopefully decrease the number of vehicles plying these expressways, which would result in lesser air pollution,โ€ they added.

The two Mindanao lawmakers noted that some 158,000 vehicles use NLEX every day, while 160,000 ply the ground level of SLEX and 30,000 vehicles use the elevated Skyway.

On the other hand, 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles use the SCTEX every day.

The Rodriguez brothers said giving a discount on loaded vehicles would not only result in lesser pollution but fuel conservation as well.

People would be forced to plan their trips or avoid unnecessary travel, they said.

They cited a recent report of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that motor vehicles are the main source of air pollution in Metro Manila.

Toll rates at the South and North Luzon expressways are expected to go up once 2011 kicks in next week.

The huge adjustment in the south was granted to allow investors to recoup their investments in expanding and upgrading the highway.

In the north, the expressway had been upgraded several years ago. Motorists using the NLEX are wondering why the concessionaire has been allowed to adjust rates since fees should decrease over time as investors recover their money.

They noted that when the Lopez family was still the concessionaire and Transportation and Communications Secretary Jose de Jesus was their administrator of the highway, rates were once reduced.

The Lopezes have sold their interests in the concession to the Metro Pacific Group of Indonesian investors, represented here by businessman Manuel Pangilinan.

The NLEX concession gives investors about P5 billion in annual net profits.

New NLEX toll rates

Starting Jan. 1, a new toll rate schedule provisionally approved by the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) will be implemented at NLEX.

The TRB approved a toll increase of approximately 12 percent sought by the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), the first-ever to be implemented since the 94-kilometer world-class tollway opened in 2005.

In a statement, MNTC president Rodrigo Franco said the new toll rates are still lower than the initial rates introduced in 2005, on account of two rate reductions in January 2007 and July 2008.

The new matrix authorized by the TRB provides toll for Class 1 vehicles of P2.38 per kilometer under the closed system, and P41 per entry under the open system.

For Class 2 vehicles, the rates are P5.95 per km for the closed system and P102 per entry for the open system, while for Class 3, the rates are P7.14 per km for the closed system and P122 for the open system.

For the entire 94-km run between Balintawak and Sta. Ines, Mabalacat, Pampanga, Class 1 vehicles would have to pay P195. Class 2 will be charged P486 from end to end, and Class 3, a total of P583.

MNTC, builder and franchise holder of NLEX, initially charged Class 1 vehicles (cars, jeepneys, etc.) P42 in the open system and P2.48 per km for the closed system when the rehabilitated NLEX began commercial operations in February 2005.

NLEXโ€™s introductory rates were slashed in 2007 and 2008.

Franco said the latest toll adjustments fall within the parameters of MNTCโ€™s supplemental toll operation agreement with the TRB. โ€œThe level of our toll rates remains very reasonable,โ€ he said.

Franco vowed that the toll hike โ€œwill redound to more improvements of ground and roadside services at the NLEX meant to enhance further the safety and comfort of motorists and travelers alike.โ€


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