Toll collection in Luzon to be merged
CLARK FREEPORT—The state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) are signing on Feb. 12 an agreement integrating the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) to help motorists avoid long lines on toll plazas, an official said.
The integration plan intends to remove the NLEx toll plaza in Barangay Dau in Mabalacat City, Pampanga province, the SCTEx toll plaza in Mabiga, also in Mabalacat, and one of two toll plazas in Tipo in Dinalupihan town in Bataan province (Segment 7), BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Paciano Casanova said in a telephone interview on Monday.
“Those going to Baguio City will just have to pay when they enter TPLEx [Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway] while those going to the Subic Bay Freeport and Zambales will pay at the other Tipo tollway [of SCTEx],” Casanova said.
New toll plaza
The plan includes building a new toll plaza on the side of the Manila North Road (formerly MacArthur Highway) in Barangay Sta. Ines in Mabalacat, to collect from motorists exiting the 84-kilometer NLEx.
“The idea is to have one entry and one exit. The long term plan will entail using only one card as access to the interconnected expressways,” Casanova said.
The integration, initially estimated at P300 million and approved by the BCDA board in September, is expected to be completed in seven to nine months.
The MNTC, Casanova said, would shoulder the cost of integrating the NLEx and SCTEx.
MNTC, led by Metro Pacific, operates the NLEx. Its affiliate, the Tollways Management Corp., is the interim service provider at SCTEx.
The government required a price challenge on SCTEx and any firm who wins this will have to adopt the new toll collection system, he said.
“We appreciate the support and initiative of Senate President Franklin Drilon in providing a faster momentum to the integration of the expressways,” Casanova said.
Drilon sought the integration after heading a probe on the traffic gridlock on the way to Baguio City during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The volume of vehicles rose by 25 percent during that period.
“To expedite the process, the [Toll Regulatory Board] will simultaneously monitor and review the toll collection systems integration agreement to make sure it will be in conformity with the policy of the government,” Drilon said in a recent statement.
He also wanted the integration of the TPLEx with NLEx and SCTEx, and the link of the NLEx and South Luzon Expressway.
The government built NLEx in the 1960s and rehabilitated it in 2004. It built the SCTEx on Japanese loans, opening this in 2008. Sections of TPLEx opened in 2014. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon