TOLLWAY operators in the south are well-prepared for the expected exodus of motorists and commuters going to provinces south of Metro Manila in observance of the Holy Week. The Skyway O&M Corporation (SOMCO), Manila Toll Expressway System, Inc. (MATES) and Star Tollway Corporation (STC), the operators of Skyway System, South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Star Tollway, respectively, expect traffic to peak on Holy Wednesday and Maundy Thursday, as well as on Easter Sunday and the following Monday, for the influx back to Manila. With this, motorists are encouraged to plan their trips in advance to avoid the traffic rush and delays.
SOMCO, MATES and STC have made preparations to manage the expected Holy Week rush of motorists to and from Metro Manila and the provinces in Southern Tagalog and to ensure the safe and pleasant trip of all their motoring patrons. The operators have cancelled the leaves of their field personnel to augment the intensifed patrol operations and motorist assistance efforts as well as the deployment of ambulant tellers in busy toll plazas.
Aside from the close coordination between the tollway operators and the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group and local police, tow trucks and ambulances will be available round-the-clock to curb criminal activities and be prepared for any emergencies.
SOMCO expects an average of 200,000 vehicles on the Skyway System while MATES sees around 275,000 to 300,000 vehicles to use SLEX. At the Skyway System, the sub-base pavement repair and modification of the chariot guards at the toll plazas and the installation of emergency exits in Bicutan and Sucat have been completed. Many road sections of the SLEX, as well as the toll plaza lanes have been repaired. All other ongoing rehabilitation and improvement works on the Skyway and SLEX will be suspended starting March 27 and resume on April 7.
At Star Tollway, traffic is seen to grow about 15% from last year’s actual average of 37,000 to 42,500 this year because additional road capacity. The two new northbound lanes between Lipa City and Batangas City and the newly-paved lanes of the 42-km Star Tollway have made travel safer, faster and smoother for motorists since late last year.
Meanwhile, additional “exact toll” lanes at Skyway and SLEX toll plazas are now open, to shorten vehicle queues and speed up traffic flow especially during the peak days. Motorists may pay tolls through the SLEX off-site payment kiosks and purchase toll coupons for future trips along the South Tollways. These kiosks are located in the following service stations: Shell Southbound (SB) and Northbound(NB), Petron (SB), and Caltex (NB). Motorists who have paid their tolls or purchased toll coupons may pass through the dedicated “Exact Toll” lanes to lessen queuing time at toll plazas. All these improvements aim to ensure the safety and convenience of the motorists, especially during peak traffic season such as the Holy Week during which the South Tollways operators are prepared to adjust the lane direction configuration by providing convertible toll lanes and opening counterflow sections during the time when and where traffic is expected to build up.