NLEX confident it can meet travel rush on holidays

Published December 25, 2020, 3:10 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

The North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) can handle the holiday travel rush, now at par with pre-pandemic levels.

Operator NLEX Corporation and mother company, Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) are confident about the system improvements they have made to control congestion at NLEX for the holidays.

“Current traffic volume is at par with pre-pandemic levels, but we are no longer seeing congestion at the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) lanes at the toll plazas,” noted MPTC Senior Vice President for Communication and Stakeholder Management Atty. Romulo S. Quimbo, Jr. 

The improvements which NLEX made in the past few weeks have significantly eased the traffic situation, especially in light of the anticipated rise in holiday traffic. 

“This means the RFID system is working quite well,” he added.

At NLEX-SCTEX, the ratio between RFID and cash-paying motorists is at 85 percent.  System enhancements -repositioning of RFID installation sites, deployment of more personnel to assist motorists, and intensified communication campaign, created better traffic flow.

Motorists have also adjusted to the electronic toll collection system especially with the reloading procedures.

Incidents of insufficient load have substantially gone down, according to Quimbo.

Based on December 19 data, about 1.31 percent of all RFID transactions are with insufficient load.

This was an improvement to the December 5 figure of 5.34 percent.

The company also has an intensive sticker replacement program in place, so any issues on defective and worn-out RFID stickers can be resolved quickly.

The company continuously makes adjustment and will ensure that its technical team is on alert to address any issues, especially during the holiday season.

As part of its seasonal “Safe Trip Mo, Sagot Ko,” a motorist assistance program it implements four to five times a year, NLEX deployed 1,200 personnel; consisting of security, patrols, emergency response assistance, and, of course, RFID assistants to assist motorists still unfamiliar with the RFID system.

The deployment started last Friday, Decembet 18, and NLEX has observed the benefits.

NLEX Corp. reported smooth RFID traffic in all toll plazas, and queues are usually only at the cash lanes.

“This is consistent with our view that many of the issues encountered during the first week are really just birth pains,” Quimbo added.

In fact, NLEX reports that the ratio is already at a system-wide 90% – more motorists now prefer to use RFID than cash.

“And if there will be first-timers who will pay with cash and might line up on the wrong lane, those are honest mistakes. This happens all the time. Just do the transaction and get them on their way,” he concluded.