Tue, May 24, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Freeway toll-free plan adopted for holidays

‘CHANGE OF HEART’:The Ministry of Transportation and Communications reversed its plan after being criticized for not favoring toll-free periods for the Dragon Boat Festival

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

Facing criticism, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday announced that contrary to initial plans, tollbooths would offer free passage between 12am and 7am during the Dragon Boat Festival holidays, which begins on June 4.

Details on other similar measures to facilitate freeway traffic during the three-day holiday will be announced after the weekly ministerial meeting on Thursday.

The ministry drew criticism last week over the National Freeway Bureau’s original plan not to allow toll-free hours during the holidays, a measure that is normally adopted to ease freeway traffic whenever the nation has a longer holiday period.

The bureau said it forecast the average freeway traffic volume would fluctuate between 1.8 million and 2.2 million vehicles daily during the Dragon Boat Festival holidays, with the heaviest traffic expected to occur on the first day.

Although it will be a three-day holiday, the bureau estimated overall traffic volume would remain within a controllable range and deemed it unnecessary to execute the toll-free plan.

However, the bureau changed its tune after facing criticism from motorists, saying its plan had yet to be approved by the ministry.

Questions over the bureau’s plan were again raised by lawmakers serving in the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday.

In response, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Kuo Tsai-wen (郭蔡文) said the ministry was still evaluating the bureau’s plan.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) criticized the ministry for such a “quick change of heart” and asked the ministry to establish a mechanism to help determine whether the toll-free hours should be implemented for any given holiday.

Kuo said the bureau would normally consider data from previous years and forecasted traffic volumes to evaluate the necessity of executing such measures. A source within the ministry said the bureau had suggested in its plan that toll-free hours be executed during the Dragon Boat Festival holidays.

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