No hike on toll fees amid pandemic — Tugade

Published September 22, 2021, 11:44 AM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

Despite calls of tollway operators for toll rates hike, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade assured motorists Tuesday, Sept. 21, that there will be no increase in toll fees amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Bocaue barrier at the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). (FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Tugade said that while he understands the clamor of tollway operators to generate needed revenue to sustain their operations, he also stressed that the Department and its attched agency, the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), must “uphold and protect the interest of the public, especially with pandemic’s economic effects.”

“We need to strike a good balance. ‘Yong pangangailangan ng mga investors at ‘yong mga kakayanan ng publiko kailangan ibalanse ‘yan (We need to balance the needs of the investors and the capability of the public),” Tugade explained

However, the transportation chief clarified that the DOTr may approve requests for toll rate hikes considering the conditions imposed by the pandemic, but such will be implemented at a later date.

“Are we expecting increases at this time? Kung ako ang masusunod, maaaring apruban ‘yong increase pero huwag i-implement ngayon (The increase can be approved but it should not be implemented now),” he added.

Tugade made the assurance after the signing of the Supplemental Toll Operations Agreement (STOA) for the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) between the DOTr and the San Miguel Corporation.

PAREX, which is a 19.4-kilometer, six-lane elevated expressway to be built along the banks of the Pasig River, will connect the Radial Road-10 in Manila, EDSA, and C5.

It is expected to decongest traffic volume in Rizal, Cainta, and Marikina and provide a faster and alternative access to Makati, Ortigas, and the Bonifacio Global City once completed.