Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) yesterday raised concerns over the “pay as you go” freeway toll scheme, questioning the budget, toll rate and the authority’s ability to track unpaid tolls.
“The readiness of the program is highly questionable,” Hsu told a press conference after Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said on Monday that the scheme would be implemented on Dec. 30.
Under the new system, manual toll collections are to be discontinued and drivers are to be charged by the distance they drive, rather than by the number of toll booths they pass through. Each vehicle will be able to travel 20km a day without incurring a toll.
Hsu said there was NT$21.9 million (US$739,000) in unpaid tolls as of August this year.
He added that the electronic system would generate more unpaid tolls, since drivers would not be required to stop at toll stations.
The ministry’s decision on the rates and the toll-free distance was unprofessional and unfair, the legislator added.
The ministry adopted toll rates according to the results of a public poll out of fear of inciting public outrage, Hsu said, adding that the 20km toll-free distance would be unfair to residents in central and southern Taiwan, who usually have to travel longer distances in a single trip than people in the north.
Hsu added that the ministry had submitted an inflated budget of NT$3.77 billion for the implementation of the program.
National Freeway Bureau Deputy Director-General Wu Mu-fu (吳木富) said that unpaid tolls would not be an issue, as drivers with unpaid tolls of more than NT$8,500 would be subject to compulsory enforcement, with the bureau and police collaborating.