Sat, Dec 04, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Electronic toll system ready for nationwide installation

INFRASTRUCTURE The nation's first electronic toll collection system is ready to be installed after being tested in a variety of conditions, the operator announced

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co (遠東電子收費), contractor for the nation's first electronic toll collection system, yesterday announced that the company has finished testing the system and will start installing it at all 22 toll booths around the country.

After winning the NT$6 billion build-operate-transfer project in April, Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection, a joint venture between Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳), Teco Electric & Machinery Co (東元電機), Systex Corp (精業) and Mitac Inc (神通電腦), started testing the electronic system at the Northern Second Freeway's Hou-lung station in Miaoli County.

The system, developed by the Austrian company Efkon AG, allows drivers to pay toll fares by means of an on-board unit that incorporates an integrated circuit (IC) card, which can be read by sensors installed on top of the booths. This means that drivers no longer need to stop at toll booths to hand over tickets or money.

Richard Wu (吳忠潔), manager of the company's technology division, yesterday told a press conference that the system had passed all 3,638 tests that were conducted, regardless of weather, speed, wind velocity and type of car.

To ensure that the infrastructure complies with international standards, Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection obtained a certificate from TUV Rheinland Product Safety GmbH, an independent German verification company that offers product-safety and quality certification services.

Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection is scheduled to complete construction of the system along the Northern Second Freeway by the end of May next year, and along the Sun Yat-sen Freeway by the end of July next year. After passing the tests along these freeways, the system will officially go into operation in 2006. Users will still be charged at each booth in the early stages. After July 2010, users will be charged according to distance traveled, with sensors installed on freeway entrances.

Paul Huang (黃文祥), vice president of business and operations at Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection, said the on-board units currently cost NT$1,300 each, although alliances with insurers, telecoms carriers and banks might enable the company to provide the units for free.

Huang said the company is planning to incorporate functions of ATM cards, credit cards and maybe even mass rapid transportation cards into its IC cards.

David Ma (馬志工), the company's director of finance and corporate affairs, said the system of payment according to distance traveled will definitely be cheaper than current rates, although the eventual policy will be determined by the Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau.

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