Fri, Jan 04, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Highway, train schedules for Lunar New Year set

READY TO ROLL:Ministry of Transportation and Communications officials yesterday briefed a group of lawmakers on plans for Lunar New Year traffic

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Freeway tolls will be waived from 12am to 7am from Feb. 9 through Feb. 17 to facilitate traffic flow during the Lunar New Year holiday, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.

The measure was announced at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, where Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) and other ministry officials briefed lawmakers on traffic plans for the nine-day holiday next month.

National Freeway Bureau Director-General Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁) said the bureau estimated it would take drivers about six hours to travel from Taipei to Greater Kaohsiung if they take the freeways.

The heaviest traffic would likely occur on Feb. 12, the fourth day of the holiday, he said.

Tseng said that the bureau would also implement a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) policy at the beginning and the end of the holiday.

On Freeway No. 5, Tseng said that the HOV would mainly be enforced on the northbound lanes. The bureau would also open up some shoulders on freeways and activate the meters on the ramps or feeder roads to help ease the traffic, he said.

The exact details of HOV policy and other measures would be announced once they had been finalized, Tseng said.

To encourage more travelers to use public transportation and reduce traffic on Freeway No. 5, freeway bus operators will increase bus services between Taipei and Yilan during the holiday. On average, one bus will be dispatched every one to two minutes during peak hours, the bureau said.

The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) will ncrease their services during the nation’s most important holiday.

With the addition of its new tilting train, the “Puyuma Express,” the TRA said it would add a total of 604 train runs during the holiday, including 401 heading to the east coast and 203 operating along the west coast. The TRA will also add six trips to the schedule between Taipei and Hualien during peak hours.

Passengers headed to the east coast will be able to start booking tickets on Jan. 22, while those heading south can reserve tickets starting on Jan. 23.

As reserved seats on trains from Hualien to Taipei are expected to be in high demand on the final day of the holiday, Mao said that the ministry would carefully monitor the situation at the Hualien Train Station.

“Our principle is that no passenger will be left at the station,” Mao said.

THSRC said that it would add 333 train runs to its schedule. However, it suspended early-bird package offers for the holiday period and would continue to have cabins with unreserved seats.

High-speed rail tickets for the holiday will go on sale on Friday next week.

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