Mon, Jun 10, 2013 - Page 3 News List

NFB maps out free routes

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Drivers could save on freeway tolls after the National Freeway Bureau (NFB) unveils an alternative route map next month.

A “pay-as-you-go” policy is due to be implemented on national freeways in September, meaning drivers would be subject to fees based on the number of kilometers traveled.

Currently, motorists are charged toll fee whenever they drive through toll booths. Drivers exiting freeways before they reach the toll booths are not charged.

The bureau’s chief engineer, Wu Mu-fu (吳木富), said that many drivers in metropolitan areas say that driving costs would increase after the introduction of the policy because they can currently drive on some freeways for free.

In response to these concerns, the bureau’s is highlighting alternative routes on which people can still drive without charge, he said.

As an example, Wu said that drivers do not pay when driving between the Linkou (林口) and Yangmei (楊梅) interchanges on Sun Yat-Sen Freeway (Freeway No.1). The bureau would then identify alternative routes within this section.

“They [alternative routes] must not be too far from the national freeways,” Wu said. “Taking the route should not increase driving time too much and traffic on these routes must not be too heavy.”

The bureau proposed three different toll fee rate plans last month.

The first plan would not give drivers any toll-free distance, with each kilometer being charged at NT$0.9. The second plan would allow drivers to drive 15km free of charge, after which each kilometer would cost NT$1.2 if the distance was less than 200km.

The rate would drop to NT$0.9 per kilometer if the distance was to exceed 200km.

The third rate plan would give motorists 20km of toll-free distance, after which they would be charged NT$1.3 per kilometer if the entire distance was less than 200km. The rate would be NT$1 per kilometer if drivers traveled 200km or more.

Surveys by the bureau have shown public opinion to be polarized on the issue of which rate plan to adopt, with most people supporting the first or third plan.

The second proposal was least popular.

Data from the bureau showed that about 65 percent of drivers would see their costs increase if the nation adopts the first plan, though long-distance drivers would pay less than they do now.

If the third proposal is adopted, about 50 percent of drivers could still drive on the freeways without paying anything, the data showed.

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