NLEX, SCTEX integrated, eases northbound travel
Ramon Efren Lazaro (The Philippine Star) - March 18, 2016 - 10:00am

CLARK, Pampanga, Philippines – The North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) have been combined into one seamless road network to accommodate the heavy influx of motorists for the Holy Week.

Senate President Franklin Drilon led officials in a ceremonial drive yesterday to the Sta. Ines toll plaza, marking the launch of the combined tollways.

The integration of the two expressways cost P650 million and involved the conversion of the NLEX and SCTEX toll collection into a single system.

This reduces toll collection stops to two instead of five from Balintawak to Subic and back, instead of four from Balintawak to Tarlac and back.

To unify the system of NLEX and SCTEX, the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) has constructed seven new toll plazas in Tarlac, Subic-Tipo, Sta. Ines and the northbound and southbound side of Dau and Mabiga.

MNTC president Rodrigo Franco said the seamless and faster travel can now be experienced at NLEX and SCTEX as toll collection stops are lessened and additional options are introduced at the SCTEX.

Franco added the integration speeds up the queues on the toll plazas. Motorists who will drive from Manila to Subic will just have to stop for toll payments at Balintawak and Subic or Tarlac.

“This will save them up to 40 minutes of travel time,” he said.

Drilon said he had temporarily suspended his campaign sortie to savor the launching of the toll integration project.

Drilon recalled the plan for the two expressways to be integrated was brought about by the 11-hour traffic ordeal he had on the two expressways in 2014.

To spare motorists from experiencing a similar fate, Drilon said he summoned officials of the MNTC and the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) to find a solution to the traffic congestion in the two expressways.

Drilon noted the integration project also features a unified ticketing system, electronic toll collection and magnetic payment methods, which are projected to increase up to 800 transactions per hour compared to manual lanes which could only service 200 transactions per hour.

On the other hand, BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Paciano Casanova said the integration is a game-changer that will greatly benefit the motorists in terms of faster travel time and conveniences and set the standard for what is doable in the future.

Casanova said the NLEX-SCTEX integration is the first among expressways in the country.

With the integration completed, Franco added the MNTC is open to discussions to link NLEX to TPLEX, which is operated by San Miguel Corporation.

“That would be a natural next step to try to talk to the concessionaire or operator to see if that integration is possible, so that may be something we could eventually explore with the concessionaire of TPLEX,” Franco said.

For the Holy Week, MNTC will implement Safe Trip Mo Sagot Ko 2016 motorist assistance program to enhance traffic management and toll collection services at the NLEX, SCTEX and CAVITEX.

From March 18-28, additional patrol vehicles and enforcers will be fielded to immediately respond to distressed motorists while ambulant toll tellers equipped with portable toll collection gadgets will be deployed and additional traffic informatory signs will be installed in strategic areas and road works will also be suspended to ensure smooth traffic flow. – Louella Desiderio

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