MPT Mobility Corp., the innovations arm of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), secured original proponent status from the local government of Baguio for its technology-driven mobility solutions.

“It was given original proponent status [in August]. We are now undergoing negotiations. After we come up with the terms for the negotiations then we will proceed with the Swiss challenge,” Mark Richmund M. de Leon, vice-president for Smart Mobility Solutions, told reporters in a press chat on Monday.

In July, the company announced that it submitted an unsolicited proposal valued at P2.5 billion to provide smart urban mobility solutions to a local government unit.

“The current modality is a concession agreement but of course, everything will be undergoing negotiations [to determine] what’s the best on their side,” Mr. De Leon said.

According to Donald Saurombe, assistant vice-president for business development, the company’s proposal would deploy integrated and tailor-fit systems for Baguio, including traffic management solutions, area-based monitoring, smart command centers, parking systems, and transportation fleet management support.

The company is also looking at the replacement of the number-coding scheme by introducing a congestion fee in Baguio, Mr. Saurombe added.

“Instead of number coding, you will just have to pay a congestion fee if you choose to drive. It is supposed to shift the behavior of the motorist to be able to think about when they want to drive — during congested times or choose a less congested time to make a trip,” he said.

A congestion pricing scheme is a fee charged to drivers for traveling in certain key areas at a specific time, which is a concept aimed at easing traffic.

Mr. De Leon declined to say how much the congestion fee would be, noting that the company already surveyed the willingness of motorists to pay the charge.

“We came up with that magic number. We have that number that we proposed to Baguio, and the response was positive. Majority of the people are willing to pay,” he said, adding that the congestion pricing will only be implemented during peak hours.  

In 2020, the Department of Transportation said the National Economic and Development Authority’s technical working group was evaluating the proposal for a peak hours congestion pricing system in certain parts of Metro Manila.

“Congestion charging is very successful in other key cities. We’re not just addressing traffic [and] congestion per se, but addressing the whole transport system of the city. It’s only for Baguio for now,” Mr. De Leon added.

The pricing scheme is expected to reduce in Baguio by up to 15%, Mr. De Leon said.

MPTC is the tollways unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., one of three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Ashley Erika O. Jose