'Highway to hell': Toll suspension eyed as motorists spend 'half a day' in SLEX traffic

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 10 2019 10:47 AM | Updated as of Oct 10 2019 11:10 AM

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MANILA — The Toll Regulatory Board said Thursday it is studying a proposal to suspend fees along the South Luzon Expressway, where a lawmaker said motorists have been spending half their day due to heavy traffic spawned by the Skyway extension project. 

A typical SLEX commute from areas south of Manila now takes 3 to 5 hours, after authorities started installing posts for the 4-kilometer Skyway extension, said Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones. 

"Halos kalahati ng buhay mo sa isang araw, nakakakain na talaga ng traffic pagdating dito sa SLEx," Aragones told radio DZMM. 

(Almost half of your life in a day goes to traffic here in SLEx.) 

Aragones said she will file on Monday a resolution urging fellow lawmakers to compel the TRB to temporarily suspend the collection of SLEx toll. 

Sen. Grace Poe earlier urged SLEx managers to reduce toll rates.

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The TRB, chaired by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, is studying the proposals, said its spokesperson Julius Corpuz. 

"Sa ngayon, ang impormasyong naibigay sa akin ng pamunuan, ito'y kanila pang kasalukuyang tinitingnan, pinag-aaralan," he said in a separate DZMM interview. 

(For now, the information given to me by the management is that they are looking into it, studying it.) 

Under the law, the TRB "may also be imbued with the authority" to impose sanctions on the Skyway extension's contractor, he said. 

"Lalo na po siguro kung ang kadahilanan ay pagpapabayang contractor nila, na hindi nila ginawa ang nararapat at lalong sumama ang lagay ng traffic, maaaring matingnan sa punto ng possible sanction on the part of the contractor," said Corpuz. 

(Especially if the reason is neglect on the part of their contractor, if they failed to do what is proper and the traffic worsened, we can look at possible sanction on the part of the contractor.) 

Skyway O&M Corporation (SOMCO) president Manuel Bonoan, meanwhile, said the toll suspension is "something that can be discussed, but all things have to be considered." 

"Pag-usapan din natin kasi kailangan din naman namin iyong budget namin to continue to operate the toll facilities," he told DZMM. 

(Let's also talk about it because we need budget to continue to operate the toll facilities.) 

The SLEX is used by around 370,000 motorists daily, 190,000 of whom pass through the Skyway, said Aragones. 

The Skyway extension, which will be completed by December 2020, aims to eliminate the need for motorists to pass by the Alabang viaduct, a perennial traffic chokepoint, SOMCO earlier said.

Traffic in SLEx will ease in December 2019 after authorities complete the Skyway extension's foundation, said Bonoan.