SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
With the looming peak of traffic in expressways during the Holy Week, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile renewed calls for the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) to adopt a unified ticketing and payment system for the Luzon Expressways Network to lessen delays at toll stations.
Enrile said that while travel on these expressways has significantly improved in recent years, motorists continue to experience delays - especially during peak seasons - with traffic bottlenecking at tollbooths due to payment inefficiencies.
The lawmaker noted that most motorists who need to pass through several expressways on the way to their destinations have no choice but to line up and manually pay their expressway ticket since there is no single pass that they could interchangeably use in the expressways.
The Luzon Expressways Network is composed of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expresswy (SCTex), South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), Skyway, STAR Tollway, North Luzon East Expressway, North Luzon West Expressway, CALABARZON Loop, Tarlac-Nueva Ecija-Aurora Expressway and the Infanta-Cabanatuan Scenic Superhighway.
Unified payment system
"If you notice, there is usually a shorter line at automated tollbooths. This is because motorists opt to pay manually since they cannot use their EC Tag on SLEX and the E-Pass on NLEX. This is the same with other expressways like the SCTex and STAR Tollway," Enrile said.
"A unified payment system will make payment more friendly for our motorists - especially those who need to pass through several before finally reaching their destination. This system will undoubtedly cut travel time and lessen irritants that motorists encounter in the road, such as traffic bottlenecks."
Enrile added that expressway operators should learn from experiences in the past and use their time and motion studies to anticipate when queues will occur so that appropriate measures are put in place to speed up the operations.
He also urged DoTC to ensure that all the expressways are equipped with facilities and equipment such as uninterrupted power supply (UPS), emergency phone booths, bay parkings, 24/7 patrol vehicles and restrooms.
"What we want to do is to give the riding public a uniform feel of expressway services and assistance regardless of what toll system they are using," Enrile said.
"Our motorists pay more for using these expressways, and it is only natural to expect a more convenient, faster and safer travel on these roads. This is also why motorists are understandably more irate when they encounter inconveniences."
At the same time, Enrile called on the tollway operators to come up with a program that allows long-term toll fee payments at discounted rates.
For example, toll way operators can offer pre-paid toll cards that can be used for one year and comes at a 10% discount or cards that can be used for six months carrying a lower 5% discount. On-site payments can be charged the full amount.
"By re-engineering toll way payments and allowing long-term toll fee payments, we will not only make it more convenient for regular users of the expressways to pay toll fees, it can also be used to roll out a selective cumulative quantity discount program for users in this category," Enrile said.