Passengers on large buses can now shave between five and 20 minutes off their travel times to Yilan County after the National Freeway Bureau exempted large buses from following the ramp meters on the Freeway No. 5 if they enter the northbound lanes of the freeway through the Toucheng (頭城), Yilan, Luodong (羅東) or Suao (蘇澳) interchanges.
Designated lanes will be made available for large buses when they enter the interchanges.
The new policy, which took effect over the weekend, is part of a plan by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to ease congestion that usually occurs on the freeway on holidays, particularly with northbound traffic.
Prior to the new policy, the bureau allowed large buses to have priority access to the Yilan and Luodong interchanges, but they still had to follow signals on ramp meters.
The bureau said ramp meters are used to regulate northbound traffic by controlling the vehicles that enter the freeway through the four interchanges mentioned because of the limited capacity of the Hsueshan Tunnel.
However, it also meant that large buses had to line up with other smaller vehicles before they could enter the freeway, making it a less attractive option to use the buses for travel and less likely to reduce the number of vehicles on the freeway, the bureau said.
The bureau said large buses could now pass through lanes originally built for the toll collection system on the ramp instead.
The policy will be executed at different times on different interchanges under different conditions. It applies to those entering through the Toucheng Interchange between 12pm and 10pm during holidays.
The policy will be activated on Yilan and Luodong Interchanges during holidays whenever the bureau sees fit.
The policy is to be executed daily at the Suao Interchange.