The National Freeway Bureau said yesterday that it would establish within a week key performance indicators (KPI) to evaluate the operation of the distance-based electronic toll collection (ETC) system, adding that severe penalties would be leveled against the toll collection contractor if it fails the evaluation.
The KPI evaluation system is commonly used in the private sector to periodically asses the success or progress of a system, project or marketing campaign.
National Freeway Bureau Deputy Director-General Wu Mu-fu (吳木富) said that the indicators would be stipulated by technical experts from the private sector, adding that the indicators would be used to evaluate Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co’s performance over the past three months.
Wu said the indicators would be designed to tackle the issues of errors appearing on drivers’ eTag accounts, particularly if drivers have been charged for the same journey twice or when they did not use a freeway.
He said the bureau could start evaluating the firm based on the indicators on Thursday next week, Lunar New Year’s Eve.
“The KPI evaluation is not listed in the contract, but this is where the government stands at the moment. If errors continue to emerge after three months, that proves that Far Eastern’s system is flawed and problematic. If the problems have ceased, then the company can use the evaluation to prove its capability,” Wu said.
In response, Far Eastern said that it was willing to be subject to a strict evaluation by the government.
“If this is what we have to do to repair consumer confidence, we are wiling to accept the strictest evaluation by the government to improve our system,” company spokesperson Josephine Chou (周世惠) said.
While Chou said that the company would do its best to improve the system, she also stressed that it is impossible for it to be 100 percent perfect because no ETC system in the world meets such a standard.
Chou said the company agrees that the evaluation should be set by technical experts from the private sector, because it can then be used to determine if the Far Eastern had been at fault or not in different cases.
Wu said the bureau would examine eTag account transactions on a daily basis following the evaluation, adding that the company would be fined a maximum penalty of NT$500,000 per day when the number of errors reach a certain threshold. The bureau would also seriously consider terminating the contract with the firm if there is no sign of improvement after the evaluation, he said.
Previously, the company agreed that drivers who have been erroneously charged would receive compensation that is twice the amount of the mistaken charge, however Wu said the bureau wants the company to pay more.
“Drivers can file complaints with the bureau if they believe their toll fee accounts have been incorrectly charged,” Wu said. “In addition to the compensation, these drivers should be given an additional indemnity which should be paid by Far Eastern.”
National Freeway Bureau statistics show that most of the erroneous charges occurred between Jan. 2 and Jan. 10.