40% toll rate hike for NLEX connector road sought

40% toll rate hike for NLEX connector road sought
NLEX Connector España to Magsaysay Section. Photo from NLEX Corp.
  • NLEX Corp. sought Toll Regulatory Board approval for a P34 toll rate hike on the NLEX Connector Road
  • The request for adjustment was prompted by the recent opening of another interchange
  • The proposed toll hike is from P86 to P120 for Class 1 vehicles
  • NLEX Corp. aims to use the increased toll revenue to support ongoing projects, including the third Candaba viaduct and road expansion, estimated at P15 billion for the next year

NLEX Corp is seeking a 40% toll rate hike on the NLEX (North Luzon Expressway) Connector Road after the recent opening of another interchange.

The company initially introduced toll fees of P86 in August for the Caloocan-España segment. With the recent extension to Sta. Mesa, NLEX Corp. now seeks Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) approval for a P34 increase to P120 for Class 1 vehicles.

NLEX Corp. president J. Luigi Bautista explained the toll adjustment is crucial to sustaining the services provided covering the entire 8-kilometer expressway.

Bautista told reporters on the sidelines of a recent forum that NLEx Corp. is optimistic about securing approval soon, given the daily average vehicular volume of 15,000 on the toll road.

The increased toll revenue aims to support the ongoing NLEX-SLEX Connector project, which is already 66.64% complete, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The NLEX Connector Road, a public-private partnership between DPWH and Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), plays a crucial role in reducing travel time for cargo moving between the north and south of Luzon. NLEX is a unit of MPTC.

The proposed toll rate adjustment aligns with NLEX Corp.’s need for additional funds, estimated at P15 billion for the next year. This funding will be allocated for the construction of the third Candaba viaduct at NLEX and the expansion of the road connecting San Fernando in Pampanga and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

The 5-kilometer viaduct, linking Apalit, Pampanga, and Pulilan, Bulacan, aims to enhance road capacity, welcoming motorists by November next year. Simultaneously, the San Fernando road widening project, scheduled for construction in the first quarter of 2024, will take about two years to complete.

NLEX Corp. faces the challenge of acquiring up to 95% of the right-of-way for its P1.3-billion Segment 8.2 project, an 8.30-kilometer expressway passing through Mindanao Avenue, Quirino Highway, Regalado Avenue, and Congressional Avenue. The project, currently at 68% progress, awaits completion before commencing construction.

As part of their growth strategy, MPTC is exploring a potential initial public offering (IPO) of toll road operations in collaboration with San Miguel Corp. by 2025. Rogelio Singson, MPTC president and CEO, recently told reporters about the need to raise up to P45 billion in fresh funding to reduce the toll road unit’s debt level.

In addition to the NLEX-SLEX Connector project, MPTC operates several toll roads, including the Cavite-Laguna Expressway, the Manila-Cavite Expressway, the Subic-Clark Tarlac Expressway, and the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway.