Heavy traffic was recorded on the freeways yesterday as travelers hurried home to enjoy Lunar New Year's eve dinners with their families.
Many sought to take advantage of toll-free hours between 12am and 6am.
The Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau calculated that traffic during the toll-free period was approximately 4.6 times more than normal. During the six hour period, about 464,000 vehicles swarmed freeways.
By 11am, close to 1 million cars had been counted.
The number of vehicles that passed through some toll plazas exceeded the weekday average by as much as 50 percent. These included Yangmei (楊梅), Zaociao (造橋), Houli (后里), Yuanlin (員林), Dounan (斗南), Sinying (新營) and Sinshih (新市) on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway, as well as some others on the Formosa and Chiang Wei-shui freeways.
The bureau announced that traffic topped 1.44 million vehicles at 3pm.
Overall, freeway traffic flowed smoothly, apart from minor congestion around some of the bigger rest areas. The bureau said the implementation of the High Occupancy Vehicle Control policy and the decision to waive toll fees had paid dividends.
Meanwhile, heavy fog caused the airports in Kinmen and Matsu to close yesterday morning, forcing the cancelation of a few flights.
Homebound travelers were stranded at the airports in Songshan and Kaohsiung all morning. At one point, Minister of Transportation and Communications Tsai Duei (蔡堆) instructed Keelung Harbor to make preparations to ferry travelers who had hoped to fly to the islands.
However, the fog gradually cleared and the airport at Kinmen was re-opened by noon. The majority of afternoon flights also resumed.
Matsu's airport also re-opened briefly at around noon, allowing one Uni Air flight to arrive. But the airport was closed again at 2:45pm and all other afternoon flights were canceled.
In railway news, express train No.1067 bound for Hualien broke down between Nanao (南澳) and Hoping (和平), Ilan County, and was forced to stop in a tunnel.
The train was scheduled to arrive at 10:45pm on Friday night, but the breakdown caused it to arrive two hours late.
Anxious passengers tried in vain to call family members from their cellphones, but the tunnel made it impossible.
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