A week since the toll increase in the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) took effect, regular users of the toll road still complain of the deteriorating traffic situation along the expressway, particularly during peak hours due to the high volume of vehicles.
Senator Win Gatchalian said the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) should have compelled the operator of NLEX to address traffic bottlenecks along the toll road before it gave the go-signal to hike toll rates.
“Instead of giving the go signal for a fresh round of toll rate hikes, the TRB should have obligated NLEX Corporation to manage growing concerns about choke points along the toll road. It should have first measured the performance of the expressway,” Gatchalian said.
The senator further said that the perennial failure of NLEX Corporation’s electronic toll collection system to work properly and consistently has also been a source of traffic congestion along toll booths. NLEX should also ensure regular maintenance of the toll road to ensure the safety and comfort of toll road users, according to Gatchalian.
He said the traffic situation along NLEX is expected to worsen on expectations that a new international airport currently being constructed in Bulacan will commence operations by 2027.
“The reason our commuting public takes the NLEX is that they want to get to their destination as soon as possible. If this objective is not achieved because they are stuck in traffic, then NLEX is not serving its purpose very well and the TRB shouldn’t have allowed a toll rate increase,” the senator stressed.
NLEX has recently implemented a provisional toll adjustment of additional P7 at its “open system” for Class 1 vehicles such as cars, jeepneys, vans or pickups from Balintawak to Marilao in Bulacan. An additional toll fee of P17 for Class 2 vehicles such as buses and light trucks and additional P19 for Class 3 vehicles such as heavy and trailer trucks are also being implemented.
Motorists will pay an additional P26 for Class 1, P65 for Class 2, and P77 for Class 3 at the NLEX “closed” system” from Marilao to Sta. Ines in Mabalacat, Pampanga.
Based on TRB’s Consolidated Resolution of TRB Case Nos. 2018-02 and 2020-07, the implementation of the toll increase will be on a staggered basis in 2023 and 2024. This means, aside from this year’s toll increase, toll road users should expect an additional increase in toll next year, Gatchalian said.