The National Freeway Bureau yesterday made a last-minute change to a plan to give freeway electronic toll collection (ETC) system users a discount in toll fees when passing through the Taishan Toll Station on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway (Freeway No. 1) during peak hours, saying the bureau would gauge the traffic situation before it determines the proper time to execute the plan.
As ongoing overpass construction between the Wugu (五股) and Yangmei (楊梅) interchanges in New Taipei City (新北市) requires the closure of one southbound and one northbound toll-collecting lane at the toll station for a year, the bureau initially decided to take several measures to ease congestion that may occur at one of the nation’s busiest toll stations. One of the plans was to increase the number of users of the ETC system.
As an incentive, the bureau announced two weeks ago that those using the ETC system while passing through the Taishan Toll Station would receive a 10 percent discount, paying only NT$36.
Currently, only those who purchase 100 prepaid tickets at a time receive a 5 percent discount.
Aside from the price difference, the bureau also considered the plan to be viable because the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co (FETC) will launch an “eTag” system in February next year, which will be available to motorists free of charge.
The Consumers’ Foundation and legislators, however, lambasted the bureau for introducing such a plan, as they said it would benefit only ETC system users and FETC.
Bureau Director-General Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁) yesterday said the decision to suspend the trial operation at the Taishan Toll Station had nothing to do with the criticism.
“We have been monitoring the traffic on the northbound lanes in the past two weeks and found that the traffic did not become worse as we had expected,” Tseng said.
“The traffic was stable and in fact the measures we have taken so far have even slightly improved the traffic near the toll station. As such, we feel there is no urgency to execute the [discount] plan when we close the southbound toll-collecting lane,” Tseng added.
The bureau closed one of the northbound toll lanes at the beginning of last month.
The southbound toll lane is scheduled to be closed next week.