Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co’s (FETC) refusal to waive the processing fee for freeway drivers paying their toll fees at convenience stores upset lawmakers yesterday, who passed a resolution again demanding the company absorb the costs itself.
The legislature’s Transportation Committee passed a resolution last month requesting that the company cover the processing fee of NT$5 per transaction when toll fees are paid for at convenience stores, adding that the measure should take effect on April 1.
However, the company refused to comply on the grounds that the requirement was not stated in its build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract with the government.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said the ministry would try to settle the issue with the company before the end of next month.
FETC’s refusal to abide by the legislature’s resolution drew criticism from both Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers.
DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said freeway tolls were no different from other charges or fees that people need to pay to the government.
“Tolls should be treated like license plate fees or other government charges, which do not incur processing costs,” he said.
Lee also criticized the company for charging drivers whenever they called its customer service line.
KMT legislators Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) and Luo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said that the company should pay the processing fee on behalf of its customers and make a toll-free service number available. The company has no excuse for insisting that customers cover the costs of these services, they said.
DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said that the committee had passed a resolution 10 times demanding that the FETC to waive the processing fee.
The company’s failure to act has made the ministry break a promise to the public and was a direct challenge to the authority of the Legislative Yuan, she said.
KMT Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said the company has yet to pay a NT$500 million (US$16.546 million) penalty for failing to meet the designated usage rate of the on-board units (OBU) — the device that drivers previously needed to have to access the electronic toll collection (ETC) system — in its contract.
DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) urged the ministry not to give up on the processing fee fight.
The company had stated in its contract that it would provide locations nationwide at which people could store money in their ETC accounts, which should include making payments at convenience stores as well, she said.