Express Lanes For Holy Week

MANILA, Philippines - The North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) have agreed to set up a "Holy Week Express Lane" for the expected surge of motorists during the Lenten Season.

Metro Pacific Tollway Corporation (MPTC), mother company of NLEx's concessionaire Manila North Tollway Corporation and SCTEx's manager Tollway Management Corporation, said the express lanes will only be available for northbound traffic.

Under the "Holy Week Express Lane" program, owners of class 1 vehicles such as private cars, vans and jeepneys intending to exit in Dau, Pampanga or Subic-Tipo or Tarlac via SCTEx may already pay for the toll at the NLEx's Balintawak or the Mindanao Avenue toll plazas.

Motorists exiting Dau will pay P218, while those exiting Subic via SCTEx will pay P408 and those exiting Tarlac will pay P322.

According to MPTC, the program will shorten transaction time in busy plazas and alleviate the queuing at toll booths especially during peak hours of the Holy Week exodus of Filipinos to their provinces.

Motorists who will make one-time payment will be given access to designated express lanes located at the left side of toll plazas for their entry and exits.

But MNTC vice president for toll operations Bobby Bontio said that the "Holy Week Express Lane" could not be implemented for south-bound traffic of NLEx and SCTEx.

"This is because the toll plazas in Subic and Tarlac are too limited to accommodate an Express Lane. It may also cause long queues of motorists and these toll plazas are not too wide and long like those in Balintawak and Mindanao Avenue," Bontio said.

The "Holy Week Express Lane" is part of the joint NLEx and SCTEx motorist assistance program called "Safe Trip Mo, Sagot Ko."

Aside from the setting up of "Holy Week Express Lane," there will also be free towing of stalled vehicles to the nearest exit, available medical personnel to administer first aid, free wifi and emergency mobile calls at selected public assistance camps.

MNTC president Rodrigo Franco said NLEx and SCTEx management is doing all it can to ensure a safe and enjoyable travel to its customers but enjoined the motorists to do their part of the bargain.

"Make sure your vehicles are in good condition before departing, properly maintained and checked up for the long travel ahead," he said.

The NLEx caters to 160,000 vehicles daily while the SCTEx has 24,000. The TMC expects 15 to 20 percent increase from the daily average users of both NLEx and SCTEx before, during and after the Holy Week.

Traffic is expected to become heavier along NLEx and SCTEx starting the afternoon of April 4, Holy Wednesday, until the morning of April 5, Maundy Thursday.