Herrera House Deputy Minority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera Source: Bagong Henerasyon Partylist FB

Herrera urges swift okay of tollway bill

March 31, 2024 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 679 views

AS tollways faced traffic jams akin to “Carmageddon” during Holy Week, House Deputy Minority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera renewed her call for the swift approval of her bill aimed at tackling the issue head-on.

House Bill (HB) No. 8161, which she filed in May last year, aims to classify non-payment of toll fees as a traffic violation and requires automated cashless toll collection to improve road safety and ease congestion on tollways, particularly during peak holiday seasons.

“The time for action is now. We cannot afford to delay the approval of this bill any longer, especially considering the urgent need to improve traffic flow and ensure the safety of motorists,” Herrera said.

Herrera’s bill introduces innovative tolling systems like the Open Road Tolling and the Multi-Lane Fast Flow (MLFF), streamlining collection without requiring vehicles to stop at toll booths, provided they have a working Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tag and sufficient funds.

These systems promise reduced travel time, improved traffic flow, and environmental benefits, with Herrera citing successful implementations in other Asian countries, such as Taiwan’s MLFF system.

The party-list lawmaker is currently in Taiwan studying the world’s only MLFF system. “In Japan, China, Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong, vehicles slow down to around 40 to 60 kilometers per hour. In Taiwan, there’s no need to reduce speed due to MLFF,” she noted.

Herrera stressed that passing the bill would enable the Philippines to adopt the MLFF system, effectively addressing significant traffic congestion issues on tollways.

“Besides being a major inconvenience for drivers, our country lags behind in tollway speed, as we’re the only ASEAN nation mandating a complete stop on supposed expressways,” she said.

An integral provision in the bill designates non-payment of toll fees as a traffic violation, complete with associated fines and penalties, aiming to discourage any deliberate or accidental evasion of toll payments that could lead to traffic gridlock and accidents.

“By making non-payment of toll fees a traffic violation, we are sending a clear message that traffic rules must be followed. This is a fundamental step in ensuring the safety of our tollways,” Herrera said.

The bill enforces strict penalties for violations. The initial offense carries a P1,000 fine and one-month driver’s license suspension. On the second violation, the penalty heightens to P2,000, coupled with a three-month suspension.

For a third violation, the fine increases to P5,000 and a six-month suspension. Subsequent infringements automatically result in a one-year license suspension, contingent upon settling all outstanding obligations.

Fines collected through these penalties are directed towards the maintenance of road safety signage and enhancements in tollway enforcement, ultimately nurturing safer and more efficient road systems.

The measure also proposes the mandatory use of standardized RFID systems across all tollways in the country, with the aim of streamlining toll collection and enhancing the experience for commuters, motorists, and businesses.

“Automated cashless toll collection is more than just a convenience; it’s a way to reduce traffic congestion, especially during peak holiday seasons,” Herrera said.

“Our highways and expressways are the lifeblood of our transportation network. With this bill, we’re taking significant strides to make them safer and more efficient,” she added.