BY VICTOR REYES and MYLA IGLESIAS
THE nine-day toll holiday in all Valenzuela City toll gates ended yesterday after Mayor Rex Gatchalian agreed to the conditional lifting of the suspension of the business permit issued to the North Luzon Expressway Corporation (NLEX).
In a radio interview, Gatchalian said he approved of the conditional lifting effective 12:01 p.m. of December 16 after NLEX officials agreed to a “barriers up” from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily in all lanes allotted for radio frequency identification (RFID) or cashless transactions.
Gatchalian last week suspended the business permit of NLEX due to its faulty EasyTrip radio frequency identification (RFID) system that caused long car lines entering or exiting Valenzuela City toll booths.
Gatchalian said “toll fees will be collected” during the barriers up hours since the NLEX has agreed to temporarily reinstate its cash lanes in toll plazas while its technical people fix the RFID system glitches which had previously caused horrendous traffic in NLEX-run tollgates.
Gatchalian warned he would again suspend the business permit if NLEX fails to address consumer complaints on or before January 30, 2021.
“They understand that the Valenzuela City government will not compromise the well-being of its constituents,” Gatchalian said, quickly adding that the lifting of the suspension of the business permit is only conditional.
“Ang tawag natin dyan ay conditional lifting. Ginagawa rin natin ito sa ibang na-sususpinde dito, hindi lang sa kanila (We call this conditional lifting. We also do this to those whose permits have been suspended, it’s not only them),” he said.
Aside from the barriers up agreement, NLEX president J. Luigi Bautista also committed the company will upgrade its system for real time loading, improve its apps to make same friendly for account management, streamline its registration process and complete the same commitment by January 30, 2021.
These are quick solutions meant to address consumer complaints of auto load credit, real time reflection of accounts balance and other discrepancies in the charging of accounts.
The operator of the North Luzon Expressway and Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) said it has carried out improvements in its operations to provide convenience to motorists this holiday season and during this transition to cashless toll payments.
“As an interim measure during this transition to 100 percent RFID, we will allow cash payments in all toll plazas. About 15 to 20 percent of our lanes will be cash lanes. For instance, in Balintawak, we will assign around 3 or 4 lanes for cash users,” Bautista said.
To date, NLEX Corp. operator of North Luzon Expressway and Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) has an average daily RFID usage of 86 percent.