High volumes of traffic were reported on the freeways yesterday as an estimated 2.6 million cars hit the roads on the second day of Lunar New Year, traditionally the day families visit their mother’s side of the family.
The National Freeway Bureau said the worst congestion occurred around 11am, when vehicles were moving bumper to bumper at an average speed of 18kph in both directions on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway (Freeway No. 1) and Freeway No. 3.
Cars traveling betweeAn Jhungli (中壢) and Yangmei (楊梅) were only moving at about 30kph, the bureau said, adding that traffic was moving slightly faster later in the day.
Freeway No. 5, which connects Taipei and Ilan County, was also jam-packed, but the bureau said the traffic was moving smoothly, although slowly.
As of press time, there had been no reports of major accidents.
Nancy Chiu (朱?, a Changhua County native, said her family left their Danshui (淡水), Taipei County, home at around 5am hoping to beat the traffic and to take advantage of the toll-free period between midnight to 7am.
“It made a huge difference not to stop at all the toll booths. But I don’t understand why the government doesn’t just make the freeways toll free throughout the Lunar New Year holiday,” she said, recalling how last year she and her husband were stuck in traffic for 10 hours for what would normally be a three-hour journey.
Bureau section chief Kang Chih-fu (康志福) suggested travelers call the traffic hotline 1968 to check on traffic conditions before heading out. Those who are not in a rush can also take alternative routes to avoid congestion, he said.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications promised last week to smooth traffic flow throughout the holiday from Taipei to Kaoshiung.
The Taiwan Railway Administration said tickets to Hualien had been sold weeks ago and those who planned to purchase tickets on the spot should expect to stand all the way to Hualien. The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp said all seats for travel between 6pm and midnight were sold out. It urged travelers without reserved tickets to use early morning trains.