Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said yesterday that non-eTag users can enjoy the 10 percent eTag discount on toll fees, as long as they pay the toll fees they owe in full with cash within three days.
Last week, the legislature’s Transportation Committee passed a resolution banning the 10 percent discount on toll fees for eTag users out of concern that the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co, the contractor that operates the system, would benefit from the differential rates.
The resolution enraged e-Tag users, many of whom were only motivated to install e-Tags because of the 10 percent discount. Many called their legislators to complain after the resolution had passed.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津), who had proposed to stop the practice of differential rates last week, proposed a new resolution yesterday that both e-Tag and non-eTag users can enjoy 10 percent discount on toll fees on the condition that they make the payment on time. The minister agreed to the proposal immediately.
Previously, the National Freeway Bureau had only planned to give the 10 percent discount to e-Tag users. Other drivers who have prepaid the toll fees before they hit the road would be eligible for a 5 percent discount instead. Full fees would apply to those without e-Tags who do not pay in advance.
The bureau said the program would need to be changed if the 10 percent discount is to be applied to all freeway users, adding that the e-Tag system is being verified and validated by an independent third party at the moment.
As the change could further delay the implementation of the “pay-as-you-go” policy, which is scheduled to take effect some time before the end of this year, the bureau suggested waiting till after the discounted fees are implemented for a period of time before extending the discount to all freeway users.
Meanwhile, the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) will start charging passengers higher ticket prices today, as planned, despite the legislature’s resolution last week requiring ticket prices to be frozen.
Overall, ticket prices are scheduled to increase by between 7.1 percent and 9.6 percent.
Transportation Committee members yesterday once again asked THSRC to extend the special discount schemes, as they are only available until March.
Yeh had said earlier that the special discounts should continue until the end of next year.
THSRC chairman Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) had also promised to study the possibility of offering super-early bird deals, in which passengers can buy tickets with a 70 or 80 percent discount, but are not allowed refunds if they cancel their tickets.
“The company would soon hold a board meeting, in which directors can discuss thoroughly again the issues related to ticket price increases and special discounts. I believe that the company will respond kindly and specifically to the public’s expectation,” Yeh said.