MANILA, Philippines — Entry points to the country's main expressways will be barrier-free around November so vehicles can move smoothly and avoid heavy traffic, but toll booth operators are calling for driver discipline once the system is implemented.

Deputy Majority Leader and ACT-CIS party-list MP Erwin Tulfo revealed this on Thursday, saying that toll booth operators informed them of plans to avoid a similar scenario during the Holy Week holidays when vehicles were almost at a standstill on the northbound and southbound expressways in Luzon.

The plan for barrier-free tolls, Tulfo said, was already being coordinated between the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) and the management of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx).

“And there were suggestions and they said, little did we know that they already had plans yesterday – they were talking to TRB, SLEx and NLEx to create a barrier-free highway starting in November,” Tulfo told reporters at the House of Representatives Complex.

“So there would be no barrier anymore, in the first phase of entry like Balintawak (on the north) and somewhere near Nicholls (on the south side). No barriers; drivers would simply pass through the exit, just like in Singapore and the United States. So that’s the first phase,” he added.

TO READ: Expect slow traffic on NLEx, SLEx on Maundy Thursday

Eventually, Tulfo said the barrier-free system would also cover exit points or tolls at the driver's destination point, and then even Manila-bound exits from both NLEx and SLEx.

Toll collection will continue to be carried out through the respective radio frequency identification (RFID) systems, but will be carried out even if there are no barriers at the entry and exit points.

“They will explain how toll fees will still be charged. This is no longer the problem of drivers. You don’t like that, you just run and move around the exits, at the end of the day you will only receive a warning on your phone that you already have a negative balance”, said Tulfo.

“That is great. I mean, they would take over the problem while we drivers would just go through the exits like in the US, Singapore and other Asian countries. But you still have to pay, of course. You have to carry it,” she added.

TO READ: Use of RFID in expressway collection, says toll collector

The barrier-free system is already being implemented at NNLEx, but only at the Smart Connect Interchange, which stretches from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to Karuhatan in Valenzuela City.

Rogelio Singson, president of the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, which manages NNLEx and other toll roads such as the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), said, however, that such a system would also entail a lot of discipline on the part of drivers.

“So, at the entrance there is no toll. But at exits, for a year, we will still have tolls. So it's a learning process. Again, discipline will be necessary. So we hope to be able to start implementing it,” Singson told reporters.

“In fact, on Monday we will be reporting [Transportation] Secretary Jimmy Bautista and together with the TRB to explain exactly what will happen, what is barrier-free free flow or what is known as multi-lane free flow,” he added.

Last Sunday, Tulfo announced that the President of the Chamber, Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, is expected to summon the highway authorities due to the intense flow of traffic on the expressway. According to the legislator, Romualdez wanted toll operators to explain why several vehicles were unable to correctly use their RFID stickers.

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Romualdez said a congressional review of the government's concession agreements with toll operators is likely if the concern remains unresolved.