The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said yesterday it would implement a high vehicle occupancy policy during the Lunar New Year holiday on the northbound lanes of the nation’s freeways.
The policy requires drivers to carry at least two other people in their cars before they are allowed to use the freeways.
The Lunar New Year holiday this year lasts from Jan. 21 to Jan. 29. Lunar New Year’s Eve will be on Jan. 22, which is a Sunday.
The National Freeway Bureau said it decided not to execute the high vehicle occupancy policy on southbound traffic on Lunar New Year’s Eve, because some homebound travelers would choose to leave right after work on Friday or on Saturday. The traffic on Lunar New Year’s Eve would therefore not be as heavy as it normally would be on that night, the bureau said.
Northbound traffic on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, on the other hand, could get heavy because some people might choose to return to their workplaces early to avoid traffic congestion.
The high vehicle occupancy policy will be implemented from 9am to 3pm on both Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, between Kaohsiung and Neili (內壢) in Taoyuan County on Freeway No. 1, and Jiouru (九如) in Pingtung County and Dashi (大溪) in Taoyuan County on Freeway No. 3.
Northbound ramps of the Puyen (埔鹽) Interchange in Changhwa County and the Pinjhen (平鎮) Interchange in Taoyuan County, which are both on Freeway No. 1, will be closed from midnight to 12 noon on the days when the high vehicle occupancy policy will be executed.
The bureau also decided to suspend fees at all the toll booths on both southbound and northbound lanes of the freeways from midnight to 7am every day from Jan. 21 to Jan. 29 to ease the holiday traffic flow.
The shoulders on several sections of Freeway No. 3 will also be opened for traffic between 7am and 7pm during the holiday. Those traveling to the east coast are encouraged to take Highway No. 9 rather than Freeway No. 5.
The bureau estimated that southbound traffic would be the heaviest on Jan. 25, because many families might plan to travel on that day.
The two-way traffic volume that day could potentially top 2.8 million to 3 million vehicles, the bureau said.