Toll firms told to submit road expansion plans

TRB exec expects traffic jams to reach critical mass by ’18


Traffic conditions at three major toll roads north and south of Metro Manila could turn from bad to worse if no major road expansion efforts were to be completed by 2018. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Traffic conditions at three major toll roads north and south of Metro Manila could turn from bad to worse if no major road expansion efforts were to be completed by 2018.

Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) chair Edmundo Reyes Jr. said signs of traffic buildup have started to emerge at the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), South Luzon Expressway (SLEx), and Cavite-Manila Expressway (Cavitex), prompting the need for new lanes and toll booths, among others.

“If we don’t do anything, by 2018, certain stretches of NLEx and SLEx will be like Edsa (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue),” Reyes said on Thursday.

He said the TRB has ordered the operators of NLEx, SCTEx, and Cavitex to submit their proposed expansion plans to the agency this year.

“They still have room to expand, but if they just widen the roads, there will be bottlenecks at the tollgates,” he said.

While average traffic at the three toll roads are still within acceptable levels, congestion has been building up during peak hours, he said.

Reyes attributed the worsening traffic situation to rapid urbanization and the country’s growing economy, which has fueled higher car sales.

The Chamber of Auto Manufacturers in the Philippines Inc. (Campi) this month reported that car sales last January and February rose by 42 percent year-on-year.

“It’s very subjective, volume changes with time of day,” Reyes said, describing the ebb and flow of traffic on the major toll roads. “We look at peak and rush hours, as well as averages. There is an international standard and a Department of Public Works and Highways standard [that have to be followed].”

The agency predicted that traffic congestion could reach critical mass by 2018 given the buildup of traffic volume over the past years.

“We assume an average 2-percent traffic volume increase every year,” Reyes said.

He said concessionaires would be allowed to recover the cost of the expansion projects through toll collections.

There are currently six separate applications for fee adjustments at privately run toll roads pending with the TRB. If all were to be approved, fees for motorists at the NLEx, SLEx, Cavitex, the Metro Manila Skyway, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) and the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (Star) toll would go up.

The TRB is currently reviewing the applications, some of which have been pending for more than a year, Reyes said. He assured motorists that no increase in toll would be implemented before the Holy Week.

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  • Cano Manuel

    EXPRESSWAYS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE FAST, yet we pay for the right to use it even if traffic is heavy. Aren’t the taxes we pay not enough for the government to build for more roads?

    • popeyee

      Nope! It is just enough to fund their the pork barrel of the members of congress…

      • Cano Manuel

        And they’re going to use it this coming election.

  • symonwho

    Short term, SLEX can improve the tollbooth operations quickly if they just put on their thinking hats. Lower the price of EPS devices thru loyalty schemes to encourage use of EPS lanes. Acquire faster servers and printers since it takes soooooo much time just printing receipts or do away with online printing of receipts and issue pre-printed ones. This is basically what their ambulant tellers do.

    Implement prices in units of five pesos to reduce counting of monies. Implement pre-paid receipts you can buy from retail outlets e.g. 7-11 or petrol stations.

  • unokritiko

    This peope who manage the tollways are inutil people.That includes the MMDA personnel from tolentino down to that person who manage the traffic.They always want to have a traffic congestions!!!
    Just look at the picture in this news, see the major problem?? I think not if you are not a professional driver with discipline!!!
    I am talking of the right of way for motor vehicles. Those trucks thats on the left lane which is considered fast lane should not be used by this undiscipline drivers. Instead of some small vehicles than can pass thru is being hampered by this trucks occupying the left lane and that cause the traffic to slow down.
    Its a worldwide rule that trucks and slow moving vehicles should occupy the right lane.!!!
    In this country there is no rule on traffic except if there is a sign which is often none!!
    They should catch this erring vehicles and disciplined them. One thing more it will give an additional income to MMDA and tollways.

  • mark1205

    Can they instead modernize the PNR? It is a for long term solution as we just can’t accommodate everyone having their own cars. If you build more roads, more cars will always come. We must stop the suburban diaspora. Look at how fuel hungry Los Angeles is. Better is Singapore and HK. and all the European countries who have narrow roads yet they were able to create walk able, livable communities.

    • milo go

      You know I agree we need to spend money on mass transit and increase gasoline and registration taxes to fund the train system.

  • monses

    The government should instead expand the McArthur hi-way going up to north and also the service roads linking all nearby towns to metro manila,not just for the purpose of alleviating the traffic at express way but for the benefits of public and private transport who cannot afford to pay the enormous toll fees.The government should stop construction of any expressway which in the long run will only add burden to the poor pilipinos.

    • kismaytami

      They already did that at some parts, but the extra outer lane is obviously intended as parking area. And if the engineers and constructors are stupid enough, they’ll just leave pre-existing power/telco line poles standing in the middle of these new lanes, making the lane useless for speeding up traffic.

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