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8 June 2010

Expressway tolls expected to rise steeply

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The developer of South Luzon Tollway, one of two expressways in the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), wants the government to approve a nearly 300-percent increase in its toll rates, saying motorists have been paying practically nothing for improved roads since 2009.

“People keep saying this is an increase. [But] this is a new road, and these are new rates. Our prevailing rates are the lowest rates in the entire country. Halos wala kayong binabayaran diyan," South Luzon Tollway Corp. (SLTC) Spokesperson Alma Tuazon told GMANews.TV on Tuesday.

Tuazon said SLEX’s current rates are about 75 centavos to 80 centavos per kilometer, compared to about P3.10 per kilometer in other toll companies in the country.

The SLTC has asked the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) to increase prevailing rates by more than 270 percent, according to unofficial figures from TRB Spokesperson Julius Corpus.

“These rates are not yet final and may be subject to change after the TRB comes up with official price matrix. These are in accordance with the agreement entered into by the government and the investor," Corpus told GMANews.TV in a separate interview Tuesday.

According to Corpus, SLTC proposed an increase from 75 centavos to P2.73 per kilometer from the Alabang Viaduct in Muntinlupa City to Calamba in Laguna for Class 1 vehicles. These comprise light vehicles such as cars, jeepneys, and vans.

If approved, rates from the same route would go up by P55, from the prevailing P22 for Class 1 vehicles, to P77.

Class 2 vehicles, composed of light trucks and buses, would pay P155 from the current P43.

Class 3 vehicles, or the heavy, multi-wheeler trucks, would pay P167 more, from P65 to P232.

“As of now, the TRB has yet to issue a final order for the SLTC to implement new toll rates. The SLTC is still trying very hard to comply with the conditions laid by the TRB. Maybe in the coming days or weeks we would see some development," Corpus said.

These conditions included the completion of toll plazas and booths and a toll collection system; the improvement of traffic flow, especially in toll plazas; and information campaigns and meetings with various groups to understand the need for new rates.

Tuazon stressed major rehabilitations on the SLEX were finished in December 2009, with only peripheral improvements now ongoing. That part from Filinvest in Alabang to Calamba in Laguna, which now comprises eight lanes instead of four, was also finished in 2009, she added.

“So motorists have been using the road for one year now without an increase whatsoever in the rates. We are still using the cost for the dilapidated road before," Tuazon said.


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