The trials for the freeway Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system will begin next Friday and will run for a period of six months, Ministry of Transportation and Communications officials said yesterday while encouraging the public to make use of the new system.
The test-run for the technology will take place at 22 toll stations along both the north-south Jhongshan Freeway (No. 1 National Freeway) and the Formosa Freeway (No. 3 National Freeway).
At the beginning, two lanes will be allocated at each toll booth for vehicles with on-board units (OBUs). Small cars are to use the innermost lane while buses are to use the outermost lane.
Ou Hui-cheng (歐輝政), deputy director-general of the National Freeway Bureau, said that the number of lanes may be increased in the future depending on the needs of motorists.
However, if less than 2,000 large vehicles fail to have OBUs installed before next Thursday, only the innermost lane for small cars will be opened, Ou said.
Currently, around 20,000 vehicles have had OBUs installed, but another 20,000 have been registered and are ready for installation, he said.
OBUs can be installed at service areas along the freeways, he added.
During a three-month promotional period, from Jan 1 to April 9, the first 200,000 OBU installations will cost NT$680 (US$21), with free installation.
After the promotional period, OBUs will cost NT$1,180 (batteries included) and installation will cost NT$175. A deposit of NT$200 is also required for the integrated circuit card in the OBU.
The ETC tolls will be NT$40 for small cars, NT$50 for buses and NT$65 for cars connected to trailers or other equipment.
Ou said there is a speed limit of 40kph when passing through the ETC booth.
During a 10-day trial run of the system from Jan 16 to 25 that took place on eight stops along the north-south Formosa Freeway from Holong (後龍) in Miaoli County to Chutien (竹田) in Pingtung County, a total of 32,546 cars were counted at the ETC booths.
One-fourth of the cars counted were drivers who drove through the ETC lane by mistake, Ou said.
The ministry will work on better notifying the public about the ETC lanes, Ou said, but offenders will be fined NT$3,000.
Questions concerning whether it is necessary for individual cars to be registered in order to install an OBU unit and how much drivers will be charged for transferring an OBU from one vehicle to another are still being discussed by the MOTC and the contractor, Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co (