Senator Sotto Proposes Toll Holidays for Vehicles
Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III made formal last week his proposal to declare certain public holidays "toll-free."
"This will ensure smooth travel through the North Expressway (NLEX) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and other connecting toll highways," he said in filing Senate Bill No. 2220.
The measure seeks to amend a provision in Presidential Decree 1112, the law creating the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), particularly Section 6 which currently exempts only government vehicles on official business from the payment of toll fees.
Sotto's bill, if enacted into law, will cover "all vehicles" in the so-called toll holidays, applicable only on certain holidays and under procedures and circumstances as will be promulgated by the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB).
"With all the negative impact that the worsening traffic situation in the country has brought to its people, providing solution to the condition even on certain days could really ease the burden on the affected Filipinos," the Senate President said.
"Other than the financial losses incurred and will be incurred, traffic congestion affects one's health, work performance and even relationships, causes pollution, road rage and accidents. Thus, it affects the quality of life in general," Sotto added.
The Senate leader took note of the study conducted by a global firm Boston Consulting Group which showed that Metro Manila has the third worst traffic situation in Southeast Asia. According to the study, motorists and commuters spend an average of 66 minutes daily in traffic.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in another study, said that the Philippines is now losing PHP3.5 billion a day due to traffic congestion in Metro Manila and the situation can get worse, translating the losses to PHP5.4 billion a day by 2035 if interventions will not be made.
As early as 2015, Sotto already proposed the idea of lifting the collection of fees in toll gates' or toll plazas' entry and exit points during holidays which usually have long queues of motorists flocking to out-of-town destinations and traveling back to the city.
Data gathered from the TRB showed the following average daily traffic as of 2018: North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) 269,316; Metro Manila Skyway Project (Skyway) 949,548; South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) 355,240; Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway Project (CAVITEX) 146,315; Southern Tagalog Arterial Road Project (STAR Tollway) 57,480; Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway Project (SCTEX) 62,685; Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) 22,272; Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway (MCX) 32,300; and NAIA Expressway (NAIAX) 97,498.
In the event that the measure is enacted into law, nearly two million vehicles that traverse through SLEX, NLEX, Skyway, NAIAX and CAVITEX stand to benefit from Sotto's proposal.
The traffic volume increases by 10 percent to 15 percent whenever there is a declared holiday.
Waiving the toll fees will help ease congestion in toll gates, Sotto stressed.