The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) recently approved the proposed toll rate hike for the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), which is set to take effect on June 15. The announcement made by the Metro Pacific Investment Corp (MPIC), the parent company of NLEX Corp, has caused outrage among the public. The additional charges will be applied to all vehicles traveling within the open system, from Metro Manila to Marilao, Bulacan.

According to MPIC, motorists will pay an extra P7 for Class 1 vehicles, P17 for Class 2 vehicles, and P19 for Class 3 vehicles. Meanwhile, the TRB has authorized the implementation of an additional P0.36 per kilometer in the closed system.

The latest toll rate hike is a result of periodic adjustments authorized for NLEX from 2012 to 2020. TRB also allowed the collection of the fourth and final tranche of 2012 and 2014 periodic adjustments this year, with only half of the 2018 and 2020 increases to help reduce the impact on expressway users.

Despite MPIC’s explanations, two senators have demanded an explanation from NLEX and the TRB over the “drastic” toll hike. Senator Grace Poe, Chairperson of the Senate Public Services Panel, said, “The drastic hike in toll rates must be explained in detail to the motoring public. If these were periodic adjustments from more than a decade ago, the Toll Regulatory Board must explain why it only approved it now in one big swoop.”

Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel also spoke out against the toll hike, describing it as unjustified. “Any increase at this point would be unjustifiable and unfair to the motorists who have to deal with sometimes EDSA-like traffic on the expressway, specifically from Balintawak to Meycauayan… Bago sila humingi ng dagdag na bayad, ayusin muna nila ang trapik sa NLEX,” he said.

Poe also called for the government to study “dynamic pricing,” stating that it was “high time” to determine if the expressway is providing express service. “Is the convenience provided equal to what is being charged?” she asked. “Maybe it is also high time that the government study dynamic pricing. We should not be charging high rates if customer satisfaction is low or performance benchmarks are not met,” according to Senator Poe.

The toll adjustments, according to MPIC, will allow NLEX to continue improving the facility. Discounts granted to public utility jeepneys (PUJs) under the NLEX Pass-ada discount, as well as rebate programs, will continue.

In conclusion, while the TRB has approved the proposed toll rate hike for NLEX, it has also sparked outrage among the public, with two senators demanding an explanation from NLEX and TRB over the “drastic” toll hike. The toll increase has been described as unjustified by the senators, given the service it provides. It remains to be seen how the situation will unfold, but this issue highlights the importance of considering all stakeholders and their needs when making decisions.