Apparently, more ePass users are being victimized by this.
Check your ePass accounts regularly please.
Published : Friday, September 23, 2011 00:00
Written by : Dan Mariano
IT is bad enough that motorists will have to fork out more pesos whenever they choose to travel on privately managed tollways starting October 1—but must they suffer what looks like shortchanging too?
On the strength of a recent Supreme Court decision, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will begin next month imposing a 12-percent value added tax on the fees charged by the private developers and operators of expressways.
For example, private cars plying the North Luzon Expressway from Balintawak to Sta. Ines will be charged P218 from the current P195.
The Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway is set to up its toll to P272 from P243. For the lower portion of the Skyway, the toll from Magallanes or C-5 to Alabang will rise to P119 from P106.
For the elevated portion of the Skyway, it will increase from P147 to 165.
On the South Luzon Expressway (Slex) from Alabang to Calamba the toll will increase to P96 from P86.
Southbound motorists who use the lower portion of the Skyway from C-5 or Magallanes to Alabang, then on to Calamba will have to pay a total of P261.
The additional toll, however, is not the only reason that is getting regular Skyway and Slex users angry at the tollway operators.
For some time now, many of them have subscribed to the E-Pass service just so they could avoid the invariably long lines at the exit booths.
To their dismay, E-Pass subscribers—private motorists as well as owners commercial vehicles—have uncovered what to them looks like swindling by the tollway operators.
E-Pass, short for electronic toll collection system, is operated by Skyway O&M Corporation and allows subscribers what it describes in its website as smooth driving through the Skyway system and Slex.
The Skyway website describes the E-Pass service thus: “A reloadable transponder or ‘tag’ attached to the car’s windshield under the rearview mirror, the E-Pass allows a vehicle to just slow down through exclusive E-Pass lanes. The tag is read by a sensor at the E-Pass dedicated lanes in 1.5 seconds—about one-tenth of the 15 seconds it usually takes for manual toll transactions—making entry into and exit out of the Skyway System and SLEX a breeze. Truly, the E-Pass saves time, fuel and vehicle wear and tear for its users.”
Since E-Pass was launched in 2000 subscription has reportedly grown to about 100,000.
“That’s nearly a third of the Skyway and SLEX users helping ease traffic and minimize pollution,” the Skyway website says.
There is reason to believe, however, that not all those 100,000 or so E-Pass subscribers are satisfied with the special service. Going by a flurry of emails that has recently come to the attention of this column, they feel downright cheated.
One of the E-Pass subscribers, who I will identify only as “Rey,” described his experience in an email:
“Last Friday Sept 2, 2011, I entered the SLEX via Cabuyao and exited at Sta. Rosa Tollgate. Since I use E-Pass I normally pass thru either the E-Pass Only or the Mixed E-Pass lanes. Out of curiosity, I asked the teller in the mixed lane how much they charge me and the teller casually answered P35.
To my surprise, Cabuyao-Sta. Rosa should be P17 only. Since I did not have the card (used for Cash lanes) I could not argue my case. So I left pissed off.
“The following Monday, I entered the mixed lane in Sta. Rosa tollgate using my E-Pass and exited at the mixed lane in Cabuyao. I asked the tollgate teller how much their computer debits my e-pass and she answered P173! I explained that I just entered Sta. Rosa and it should cost me P17 only and not P173.
I argued with the teller but was told that Skyway (Socom) is the one managing the E-Pass and that if I have problem, I should complain to their office in Bicutan! Nag-huhugas kamay ang Mates. They are implementing the use of E-Pass in their tollway but they point finger to Skyway!
“For the information of motorists, Skyway manages the Buendia-Alabang portion of the Slex, Mates manages the Alabang-Calamba Portion, Star Tollway manages the Calamba-Batangas section. “Though I do not personally reload my e-pass, I suspect that this was going on for so many months already and I have discussed my experience to some colleagues and they experience the same.
“The above rates were being charged to my E-Pass since Friday until today even though I already complained at those tellers and their service numbers which is very, very, very difficult to call. I was just hoping that it was just a glitch on said mixed E-Pass/cash lane but I verified also at the E-Pass-only lane and the same charging rate is repeated.
“Meaning, the Slex being managed by Skyway and Mates is not really serious in addressing these E-Pass lane issues because they are collecting an exorbitant amount from the unsuspecting motorist. They are charging the full length of the expressway, regardless of where you enter, up to where you exit.
“The worst part is that, BIR has notified the public about the imposition of 12-percent VAT to the expressways by October 2011. My P17 toll should have around P2.04 peso VAT but the way it is going on, they will be charging me P173 + P20.76 = P193.76, i.e. over by around P175 southbound and P35 + P4.20 = P39.20… for northbound.
“Skyway and Mates will be robbing the motorists like me, in this case P175 + P30 = P205 every roundtrip for the short span of Cabuyao-Santa Rosa!
“I hope you guys will also check if you are also being robbed by Skyway (Indonesian BOT contractor) and Mates (Malaysian BOT contractor). They will be managing those portions of the expressway for a term of 25 long years! Shame, shame, shame!
“Please share to your colleagues and help verify my very, very sad experience with the E-pass system. This could be common to all expressways in the Philippines using the E-Pass lanes. (I hope not).” Many other E-Pass subscribers have sent similar emails to their friends, warning them about what to them looks like “another tollway racket.”