Good news for motorists who regularly ply the North Luzon Expressway and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. Before 2015 ends, the toll collection for both highways will be integrated. That means driving from Balintawak in Quezon City to Subic Tipo will only require two stops instead of the current five, while the trip from Balintawak to Tarlac will only require two stops instead of the current four.
The NLEX-SCTEX Integration Agreement was signed by representatives from the Manila North Tollways Corporation, the builder and concessionaire of NLEX, and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, the concessionaire for SCTEX, in the Philippines Senate, with Senate president Franklin Drilon as the main witness. The integration will be implemented by the MNTC "at an estimated cost of P650 million."
"The integration of the NLEX and SCTEX toll systems will help avoid traffic buildup on our expressways, which will translate into a pleasant and enjoyable time for our countrymen regularly traversing these tollways, especially during holidays, and savings in terms of travel time and fuel consumption," said Drilon. "I am glad to extend my assistance in pursuing a prompt and decisive stance in this development initiative. Filipinos deserve a smooth, safe and unproblematic time while traveling, especially during peak seasons where many take to the roads to visit their loved ones."
If you will recall, on December 26, 2014, Drilon’s trip to Baguio reportedly took 11 hours, supposedly because of the need to stop at several tollgates along the way because of the different expressway operators.
Based on the agreement, SCTEX's toll system will be similar to NLEX's system. These include using dedicated short-range communication tags, contactless and magnetic cards, and in the near future, radio frequency identification sticker tags to pay the toll fees.
In addition, certain toll plazas will either be removed or transferred as part of the integration. Some of the toll plazas that will be removed are the NLEX Dau and SCTEX Mabalacat toll gates, while new toll plazas will be constructed at the existing entry and exit ramps at NLEX Dau and Santa Ines as well as another one at SCTEX Tarlac.
As for the toll collection, the integrated system will supposedly feature a common transit ticket system for both NLEX and SCTEX, with a single official receipt to be issued to motorists showing a breakdown of the NLEX and SCTEX portions of their trips.
See, politicians become effective when they get a firsthand taste of the problem.