Road trips from Kaohsiung to Taipei could take longer than eight hours on the third and fourth day of the Lunar New Year holiday, as many might choose to return to the workplace early because of the shorter holiday this year, the National Freeway Bureau said yesterday.
Bureau Director-General Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁) said the highest volume of traffic is likely to be on Feb. 5, the third day of the Lunar New Year break this year, with between 2.8 million and 3 million vehicles — twice the normal volume.
“Generally speaking, a road trip from Kaohsiung and Taipei, and vice versa, takes about six hours,” Tseng said. “Based on our experiences in the past, the driving speed could drop to 40kph to 60kph on the third or fourth day of the Lunar New Year. On Feb. 5, the estimated travel time could be about 7.4 hours. The estimated travel time on Feb. 6, on the other hand, could be about 6.8 hours.”
“The worst-case scenario is that motorists could get stuck in the traffic for nine hours on Feb. 5 and 8.5 hours on Feb. 6,” he added.
Tseng encouraged people to take advantage of the high---occupancy vehicle (HOV) hours, when only vehicles with more than three people can get on the freeway. They can utilize the toll-free hours, which would be from 12am to 7am every day from Feb. 2 to Feb. 7.
According to the bureau, the HOV policy will be executed from 7am to 12pm on the southbound lanes of National Freeway No. 1 and No. 2 on Feb. 2, which is the Lunar New Year’s Eve.
It applies to the freeway sections between Neihu (內湖) in Taipei and Toufen (頭份) in Miaoli County on Freeway No. 1 and between Mujha (木柵) in Taipei and Siangshan (香山) in Hsinchu on Freeway No. 3
The policy will be in place again from 9am to 3pm on the northbound lanes on both Feb. 5 and Feb. 6 between Kaohsiung (高雄) and Neili (內壢) on Freeway No. 1 and between Jiouru (九如) in -Kaohsiung and Dasi (大溪) on Freeway No. 3.
To divert the heavy traffic on National Freeway No. 5, where the Hsuehshan Tunnel is located, the bureau will give out gifts by drawing raffles to those choosing to take Highway No. 9 instead.
Between 12pm and 6pm from Feb. 4 to Feb. 7, motorists need to pick up the raffle tickets at the northbound entry of Highway No. 9. They need to drop them off at Pinglin (坪林) before 8:30pm each day during this period of time. The bureau will draw the raffle every day, with the grand prize being an iPad.
Those traveling from Yilan to Taipei can also get updated traffic reports on National Freeway No. 5 by text message by dialing 0911-510-353.
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