Mon, Feb 05, 2018 - Page 3 News List

MOTC outlines moves to enhance air quality

CLEANER AIR EFFORTS:Owners of old diesel vehicles and two-stroke motorcycles will be encouraged to replace them by increasing the cost of using them

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The 20km daily toll-free allocation to freeway drivers of diesel vehicles manufactured before June 1999 could soon be a thing of the past, after the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said it is mulling ending the program as part of the government’s measures to improve the nation’s air quality.

Forty percent of the daily traffic volume on the freeways comes from drivers traveling less than 20km, the ministry said, adding that they largely appear outside the suburban areas in the peak hours.

Ending the 20km allocation would help gradually reduce the air pollution caused by aging motor vehicles, the ministry said.

A feasibility study on ending the measure is under way, with results due to be released during the second half of this year, the ministry said, adding that such a move will be introduced only if it is feasible.

Ministry data showed the nation has about 78,000 diesel vehicles made prior to that date.

However, the ministry is planning to restrict the entry of two-stroke motorcycles and large diesel trucks to clean-air zones set up by local governments as part of efforts to promote the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) program to motivate owners of such vehicles to switch to newer vehicles.

As a first step toward a total ban, the parking fees for such vehicles in the clean-air zones will be raised or their entries limited to certain hours, it said.

Data from the ministry showed that most of the clean-air zones are in tourist attractions, scenic spots or public facilities such as airports, seaports and parks.

Many cities or counties are introducing clean-air zones to sites near hospitals and schools as well as underground parking garages, the ministry said.

To help regulate the entry of motorcycles and vehicles that tend to generate large amounts of exhaust, the ministry said it plans to use the eTag system’s image recognition facility.

It also plans to connect its vehicle registration system to the EPA’s database on exhaust emission tests, which will allow it to bar vehicles that have failed the EPA’s emission tests from entering clean-air zones.

The government is also planning to increase subsidies for public transport systems in cities or counties plagued by air pollution, the ministry said.

It also might set different fees for parking and freeway tolls for gasoline-powered vehicles and electric ones, but this would require interdepartmental negotiations, the ministry said.

The ministry said that it is already working toward eliminating its fleet of gasoline-powered vehicles, noting that Chunghwa Post last month replaced 1,627 of the motorcycles used by its mail deliverers with electric scooters.

All of Chunghwa Post’s 8,946 motorcycles are to be replaced by electric scooters by 2023, the ministry said.

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