Gross negligence could merit sanctions against operators of toll expressways –TRB

Published December 7, 2020, 4:59 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) said the proposal to temporarily waive toll fees for motorists passing the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) is possible, but only when gross negligence of the toll operator is proven.

“That is an option available to the TRB. If there is real gross negligence on the part of the toll operator and they have been greatly remiss in their responsibilities, then that option might be resorted to,” TRB spokesperson Julius Corpuz said in an interview on Monday.

Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian earlier threatened to suspend the business permit of NLEX Corporation in the city should it fail to address the “atrocious traffic situation” on its expressway caused by glitches in its RFID system.

Gatchalian also recommended NLEX to implement a “tollway holiday” and temporarily suspend the toll fees being charged to motorists until it improves its services, a proposal backed by his brother, Senator Win Gatchalian.

On the part of TRB, which regulates the operation and maintenance of toll facilities, Corpuz said that the board will have to “review, analyze and come up with a very appropriate decision” if sanction on the matter is necessary.

According to Corpuz, the regulatory body has been continuously auditing and observing the impact of the cashless toll collection system in expressways since the start of its implementation last December 1.

Corpuz also admitted that they are still getting complaints on the contactless RFID systems, but assured that they have been coordinating with toll operators to address these issues.

“We want to address and see what is the main cause of the problem and if they have responded enough to this or implemented necessary measures,” Corpuz said.

“For now, may nakikita naman kaming ginagawa nila (we see that they are doing something) to address these issues but it is still not enough. We are looking for better solutions and urgent solutions — and that is what we are discussing with them at this time,” he emphasized.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) issued in August Department Order 2020-012 which required toll operators to fully implement cashless toll collections at the expressways and major toll roads in line with the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 through limited physical contact, as well as to avoid traffic congestion in toll plazas.

Under the order, the TRB, an attached agency of the DOTr, was tasked to ensure that operators install electronic tags or other cashless systems for all motorists and motor vehicles using the expressways and transact only using a cashless mode of payment.