Sun, Jan 19, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Freeway bureau head reprimanded for eTag fiasco

Staff writer, with CNA

The head of the nation’s freeway regulator has been punished for a recent spate of glitches, which has plagued the nation’s distance-based freeway toll collection system.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said yesterday that the Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau Director-General has received two reprimands for insufficient oversight of the eTag system.

Yeh approved the punishment for Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁) on Friday.

ETag has drawn complaints about excessive deductions since early this month.

The incidents came after Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) on Thursday demanded severe punishment for the bureau over the glitches, which have stoked public anger and much local media coverage.

The director-general said he had repeatedly said he acknowledged that punishment should be meted out for his role in the recent controversy surrounding the new service.

ETag’s electronic, distance-based collection method was launched on Jan. 2, charging motorists by the distance they travel, instead of the number of toll stations they pass through.

Bridges mounted over freeways with scanners on them automatically charge motorists for the toll, but the system has charged some drivers multiple fees.

On the first two days of the system’s implementation, 121 motorists complained about excessive toll collections.

Many motorists have threatened to quit the eTag service after a steady stream of reports about the troubled system surfaced, and after Douglas Hsu (徐旭東) — chairman of Far Eastern Group — the parent company of eTag operator Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co, made controversial remarks.

Despite having apologized several times, Hsu has hit back at critics: “If you want to pull out, then pull out.”

Tseng has promised to better guide Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co to improve its service.

Far Eastern has meanwhile agreed to refund motorists twice the amount it has overcharged, according to the bureau.

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