Press Release
December 2, 2010

TRB urged to think 'out of the box' in making toll fee hikes bearable

Government, through the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), should explore "out of the box" ways to mitigate the impact of the impending toll rate hikes and make it palatable to the affected motoring public.

Sen. Ralph G. Recto yesterday said the TRB should seriously study the proposal of providing discounts to public utility vehicles like buses and private motorists who ferry three or more persons inside their vehicles.

Recto said in other countries, tollway operators provide "diamond lanes" that give discounts or even free passes to "car pools" or vehicles containing three or more occupants.

"Why not implement this policy here to tame a possible uproar against this perceived excessive increase in toll rates? And why not extend it to public utility buses in order to prevent a scenario where passengers will be made to carry the burden of the increase?" he said.

He said the same incentive system could be adopted by the TRB for tollway operators as "a grand gesture of re-endearing the increased toll fees to an upset public."

"This carpooling rule could be emulated here with a minor tweaking. Instead of an outright free pass, motorists may be entitled to a discounted toll rate if they carry three or more passengers," Recto, who chairs the Senate ways and means panel, said.

The senator said this proposal would greatly ease the traffic situation in expressways and toll roads as people would be encouraged to carpool in order to avoid paying exorbitant toll fees.

"And this would also be environment-friendly. Less vehicles on the road means less emissions, and more money on the pockets of motorists from gas savings," he added.

Recto said even the so-called "biyaheros," or the small businessmen ferrying their products through these major thoroughfares on a daily basis, would also benefit from this incentive scheme as they usually carry more than three passengers.

He explained that this proposal would not be difficult to implement as special lanes, much like the ones toll operators provide for E-Pass users, can be dedicated for this purpose.

"From singular toll users, the tollway landscape would be radically changed with the sight of fully-loaded cars with all-smiling passengers."

"And what a better way to do social networking while on the road as complete strangers share a common ride while exchanging gossips or talking about their woes. This is 'Facebook' in four wheels," he added.

Recto also said the proposed incentive system could be the key to resurrecting the good old but dying bayanihan spirit.

The senator said this was only few of the possible mitigating measures that TRB may think of when confronted with an angry public in the event that the new rates start to take effect.

Recto said the public may no longer withstand unbridled toll fee hikes that do not come with a "social conscience."

Operators of South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTex) are poised to increase their toll fees by 250 percent, 12 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

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