Sat, Jan 07, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Ministry warns of heavy Lunar New Year holiday traffic

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

There is likely to be heavy traffic on the nation’s freeways on Jan. 24 and Jan. 25 over the Lunar New Year holiday, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday, adding that it could take more than seven hours to travel between Taipei and Kaohsiung on Jan. 25.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said that as the Lunar New Year holiday is nine days long this year, travelers have more flexibility in choosing when they begin their trip home.

Mao said motorists could save time on the road by taking advantage of the toll-free hours between 12am and 7am from Jan. 21 to Jan. 29, as well as the high-occupancy vehicle hours between 9am and 3pm on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27.

The ministry also encouraged people to use public transport if they are planning to travel to Yilan during the holiday period, adding that compared with driving, taking a freeway bus could save about 30 minutes.

National Freeway Bureau Director-General Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁) said the volume of traffic on freeways could reach 2.9 million vehicles on Jan. 24 and more than 3 million on Jan. 25.

In the worst-case scenario, Tseng said, it might take about seven hours to travel from Taipei to Kaohsiung.

“Motorists are advised to plan their trip ahead and use the Internet and their mobile phones to check for the latest traffic reports,” Tseng said.

Meanwhile, the bureau yesterday announced that motorists would soon be able to buy eTags at convenience stores.

Previously, motorists needed to purchase on-board units to use the electronic toll-collection system, but the contractor failed to raise the usage rate to that stated in the contract.

Instead, the contractor last year decided to introduce the eTag system, with the tags being given to motorists free of charge.

The bureau said the contractor first trialed the eTag system with motorists in Keelung City, adding that the response was positive.

Statistics show that it took three years and eight months for the number of on-board units purchased in Keelung to reach 15,000.

The same number was reached within just 19 days after the eTag system was introduced.

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