Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) yesterday announced freeway tolls are to be lifted between the hours of 11pm and 6am during the Lunar New Year holiday.
He added that freeway traffic during the holiday would be smooth — after the nation implements the “pay as you go” policy.
Yeh made the announcement at the legislature’s Transportation Committee, in which he was to report to legislators the progress on the new freeway tolling policy.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said that because the National Freeway Bureau is scheduled to remove 23 toll booths on the freeways, the dismantling work would impact holiday traffic.
Lee also criticized the bureau’s plan to ease the congestion on Freeway No. 1 (Sun Yat-Sen Freeway) by encouraging long-distance drivers to take the Freeway No. 3 (Formosa Freeway).
He said that as Freeway No. 1 is 372km long and Freeway No. 3 is 430km, southbound drivers who follow the bureau’s plan would be charged an extra NT$116 in toll fees.
The plan is unlikely to result in diverting traffic flow if it means that drivers have to pay more in toll fees, he added.
Yeh responded that the bureau is scheduled to remove the toll booths on the inner lanes of the freeways before the holiday begins.
Construction is to stop during the holiday, he said, adding that the ministry is confident the Lunar New Year holiday traffic next year would be smoother than this year’s.
Overnight toll-free hours would also continue during the holiday, between 11pm and 6am.
The days on which the toll-free hours would be granted would be announced later, he said.
Bureau Director-General Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁) said that it is planning to offer drivers between 10 percent and 20 percent in discounts if they take Freeway No. 3 for homebound trips, making it cheaper to drive on Freeway No. 3 than on Freeway No. 1, Tseng said.
Meanwhile, legislators criticized the scheme’s brochures, saying that the numbers are too small to read and would create issues for taxi drivers.
Tseng responded that the bureau has planned to publish a second edition of the brochure, which would allow cab drivers to quickly find how much they should pay in tolls.