Drivers to enjoy 20km toll-free in freeway plan

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Dec 10, 2013 - Page 1

The National Freeway Bureau yesterday announced the rates it would use under its new “pay as you go” policy, with each motor vehicle being given 20km of toll-freeway use per day before they have to start paying.

Currently, freeway drivers are charged toll fees whenever they drive through a toll booth. Following the “pay as you go” policy, drivers would pay toll fees based on the distance traveled instead.

The bureau finalized the toll fee scheme after having its proposed rates examined by the Legislative Yuan. It also tested public opinion on its proposals by conducting telephone surveys several times in the past year.

Based on the rates announced by the bureau yesterday, each motor vehicle can drive 20km toll-free daily.

If the entire driving distance for the day is between 20km and 200km, a small vehicle’s driver is charged NT$1.2 per kilometer. A large vehicle’s driver would pay NT$1.5 per kilometer. A large truck’s driver is charged NT$1.8 per kilometer.

Should the driving distance exceed 200km, the rates for small vehicles, large vehicles and large trucks would be NT$0.9, NT$1.12 and NT$1.35 per kilometer respectively.

Each driver is to be charged by the travel distance recorded on eTags. Those who do not have eTags on their windshields are to be charged using image recognition technology, the bureau said.

To encourage more freeway users to pay toll fees using the electronic toll collection system, the bureau said drivers using eTags can continue to enjoy a 10 percent discount on toll fees after the nation starts enforcing the “pay as you go” policy, providing that there is enough money in their eTag account for payment.

The discount would not be extended to drivers without eTags, it said.

Statistics from the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co (遠東電子收費)— the contractor collecting freeway toll fees — showed that eTags have been installed on 5.2 million motor vehicles nationwide.

According to the bureau, Taiwan is the first country in the world in which the electronic toll collection system has been implemented on all national freeways.

Although the bureau has yet to announce the official launch of the new policy, it has indicated that it plans to give freeway drivers a transition period to adjust to the new way of paying toll fees.

Some lawmakers have suggested drivers be given a month to adjust to the new policy, but the bureau said the suggestion was not viable.

The revenue collected from north-south freeways, including Freeways No. 1, 3 and 5, is about NT$50 million per day.

The Freeway Construction Fund would be NT$1.5 billion short if the transitional period lasts for a month,” bureau Deputy Director-General Wu Mu-fu (吳木富) said.