Projected NLE toll rate a rip off?

Allow me to publish here a letter from one of our readers, Ms. Mercy Rosetes, a resident of Sto. Nino, Meycauayan, Bulacan and a regular user of the North Luzon Expressway (NLE), who conveys her dismay over the NLE’s projected toll rate, which she finds exorbitant and a lot higher than that of the South Luzon Expressway (SLE). She writes…

"The North Luzon Expressway rehabilitation proponent, Manila North Tollway Corporation (MNTC), has started its PR campaign on the increased toll rates it would collect for the entire 82-kilometer span of the NLE before the end of the year, or once the rehabilitation is finished by October. By then, to travel between Balintawak and Sta.Ines, cars and jeeps (Class 1 vehicles) would be charged P200 one-way from the present rate of P26; buses would be charged P400 and trucks P600. My concern, however, is the P38 — P40 toll rate that would be collected from cars that travel the 6-km distance from Balintawak to Valenzuela or Malinta. This toll rate of P6.66 / km is a shocking 1,800 to 2,000 per cent increase!

According to MNTC officials, this is cheaper than the tolls collected at SLE. I found out that the initial toll rate for the newly rehabilitated 6.5-km Magallanes — Bicutan section was P15 or P2.30 / km. Its present rate is still lower at P20 compared to NLE’s P38 — P40."

I have always been against flat toll fees for long stretches covering several exits, as what Ms. Rosetes is complaining about graphically demonstrates. This is arguably an advantage to the toll operator but an unquestionable drawback for the tollway user.

I have always maintained that the proponents who have invested on the improvement or rehabilitation of the tollways have the option to charge toll fees, within reasonable limits, that are needed in order to recoup the large investments that went to the road’s vast improvement.

However, I would have to qualify that such proponents’ option is open if, first, the motoring public had an alternative route to take instead of a well-paved, beautifully landscaped, convenient and comfortable highway — attributes that have their price. The alternate route gives the motorist a free choice of whether to travel "ordinary" through the roads that their government can afford to provide or opt for the "special", which would logically cost more.

Second, if the motorists were not in any way a part or had no equity in the rehabilitation of the highway — which in this case they have, considering that increased toll fees were collected during the rehabilitation period. This I view as motorists’ equity in the rehabilitation. Aside from the inconvenience they suffered during the completion of the project while paying toll fees, the motorists having still to pay additional toll fees while the rehab is going on makes them outright co-investors in the project, having partly financed it.

Having said that, I believe that the rationale behind toll fee rates of the NLE upon its rehab’s completion should be based more on the reasonable capacity of the motoring public to pay (the motorists being co-investors in the project) rather than on the main proponents’ enterprising goal of an "immediate return of investments".

Sadly, the announced projected toll fees to be imposed upon the completion of the rehab of the NLE seem to be way beyond the reasonable paying capacity of the motoring public, especially those who travel the length regularly whether for business or as a part of daily routine. And having flat charges covering long stretches that include several exits are not going to help the motorists either.

Does it look like a rip off?
First There’s The SUV Then The AUV — Now The ATV
ATV stands for "All Terrain Vehicle" that come in 3, 4 or 6-wheel configuration and are often regarded as the adventurous cousins of the motorcycle.

ATVs can go virtually everywhere. Equipped with bigger, ruggedly designed traction tires, ATVs are well suited for traveling muddy trails, slippery sand dunes, grassy land and rocky paths. They can go pretty fast even on such surface conditions.

To date, around 15 million Americans reportedly ride ATVs, 70 percent of which ride as a family recreational activity.

I have always been curious about owning one of these sporty vehicles. Many say that it requires less skill to ride one of these compared to bikes although some also disagree because these ATVs come in engines with power ranges of from 50cc to as high as 800cc.

Well, it’s now in the Philippines — marketing, after sales service, repair and all through Phil., KMCPLAZA Inc. in Ortigas Ave., and it can be worth checking out.
Buy A Venture With A Chance To Win Back P1 M
Our good friend Nicky Mariano, the sales and marketing director of General Motors Automobiles Philippines replied with total confidence when we asked him about their on-going promo for the Chevy Venture, "With the winning features of the Chevrolet Venture, owning one makes a customer a winner already, however, through the ‘Key to a Million’ promo, we just double the value of their investment."

With the promo ending on August 31, those interested in owning this top selling mini van still have two months to make a decision.

To give you an idea, the Chevy Venture’s top-of-the-line, the Venture LT-Premium, which is priced at P1,515,000 has leather interiors, 4 captains chairs, VCD and roofrail aside from the other features standard in the other Venture variants (Venture LT - P1,315,000 and the Venture GLP1,199,000) like foldable rear seats for added cargo, a very functional overhead console for your shades and other items, a powerful V-6 engine and a 4-wheel ABS coupled with MacPherson independent suspension system for added comfort and safety.

With the present scheme of things, politically and economy-wise, the industry arguably has a buyers’ market, what with all the promos being offered by all car companies and dealerships. This could very well be the best time to buy your vehicle of choice if you have the inclination and most importantly — the money.
Pit Lane Notes
Jaguar team managing director David Pitchforth has admitted that their rookie Christian Klien may be too inexperienced for Formula 1. The youngster’s future with the team is now shaky, and there are rumors that Jaguar is already shopping around for a replacement. There are quite a few F1 ex-drivers’ names floating around like Jos Verstappen and, believe it or not, Jacques Villeneuve.

Ralf Schumacher
isn’t sure about whether or not he will be able to race in the French Grand Prix slated for July 4. He experienced a horrific crash at the US GP on Turn 13, and was just released from the hospital recently. He will be spending the next couple of weeks resting, opting to skip testing sessions with his team.

Formula One
racing is probably the only sport in the world where the side stories are more interesting than the sport itself. With Michael Schumacher’s continuing domination, it seems like the entire season would be just like the last two, except that it’s being even more predictable. At least Kimi Raikkonen was there to give Schumi a couple of sleepless nights last year, being only several points behind in the Driver’s Championship. Now, however, the only person who even comes remotely close to Michael in points is his teammate Rubens Barrichello. With the scandalous "team decisions" in the last couple of years, it would be safe to assume that Ferrari probably wouldn’t be traveling down that road again. But then again, it doesn’t look like it would even have to come down to that — Michael is way ahead of everyone else, we aren’t even halfway into the season and it’s already going to be mathematically difficult for anyone to catch up.
Motoring Tip Of The Week
Have you ever found yourself in pouring rain with a busted windshield wiper? This situation can literally cause zero visibility for you as rainwater cascades down your windshield and blocks your vision.

The most logical and safe way to address the problem is to find the nearest service station and wait out the hard rains rather than risk meeting an accident and consequent vehicle damage or worse due to your not seeing the road well while driving.

However, if it’s a "must go on" situation like a life-threatening emergency that needs for you to dive on or you find yourself alone in a long stretch of unfriendly highway and stopping may be hazardous to your life you can try this little trick. Get hold of a stick of cigarette and rub the tobacco on your windshield especially on the space right in front of you. This would somehow reduce the water cascading down your windshield and its blinding effect and improve your vision and see the road better. It works.

This would probably convince the Surgeon General that cigarettes may not always be hazardous to ones health, on the contrary it can also be life saving.

Happy Motoring!!!

For Comments: (E-Mail) motoring/[email protected]

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