Lawmakers from the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday questioned plans by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to force motorists to install expensive on-board units (OBU) in preparation for freeway toll stations charging drivers by the number of kilometers they travel in 2012.
National Freeway Bureau -director-general Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁) said the bureau recently coducted research on the policy change, during which experts simulated different toll-collecting methods and rates, in an effort to determine how the two factors affected traffic volume.
The bureau would have to analyze the results and then engage the public in dialogue on the different rate plans, adding that it had yet to finalize any plan, he said.
Although lawmakers were scheduled to review the budget for the National Freeway Construction and Management Fund for the next fiscal year, issues surrounding the freeway electronic toll--collecting (ETC) system quickly became the focus of a question-and-answer session at the committee.
At present, national freeway users have to pay toll fees whenever they drive through tollgates. Other than the ETC system, which requires motorists to install OBUs, motorists can pay toll fees by buying prepaid tickets.
However, the bureau is planning to change the toll-collecting method by charging users according to the distance they travel on freeways to ensure the fair use of the roads by all motorists.
The new policy would require that the great majority of users install OBUs in their vehicles.
As part of an attempt to increase installation and usage rates, Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co (FETC), the contractor entrusted with the task of managing the ETC system, launched a one-year plan this month allowing motorists who have yet to install OBUs to try out the ETC system on a trial basis.
To participate in the trial, motorists must first open an account with FETC and deposit between NT$300 and NT$500. Through an image-recognition system that reads a vehicle’s license plate number, the FETC can deduct the money in the account whenever a vehicle drives through an ETC-only tollgate.
Lawmakers, however, questioned the viability of the bureau’s proposed change in the toll--collecting policy. They were also unhappy with the FETC’s plan to raise usage rates.
“If the FETC can collect toll fees through the image-recognition system, then that means you do not need an OBU to go on the freeways,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) said, adding that the ministry should not be allowed to force motorists to install OBUs when the new toll-collecting policy takes effect.
One of the reasons why people don’t buy the OBU system is that it is considered expensive and individuals have to cover the cost of installation themselves.
DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Jen-fu (楊仁福) said those buying OBUs before the FETC announced its new plan were buying “a pig in a poke” because for the moment motorists did not need an OBU to drive through ETU-only toll gates.
Tseng, said the FETC’s plan was a short-term experiment not a long-term undertaking. The results of the trial period would be factored into the calculation of monthly OBU usage rate, which will be raised 42 percent by next month, he said.
A Keelung high school on Saturday night apologized for using a picture containing a Chinese flag on the cover of the senior yearbook, adding that it has recalled the books and pledged to provide students new ones before graduation on Thursday. Of 309 Affiliated Keelung Maritime Senior High School of National Taiwan Ocean University graduates, 248 had purchased the yearbook. Some students said that the printer committed an outrageous error in including the picture, while others said that nobody would notice such a small flag on the cover. Other students said that they cared more about the photographs of classmates and what was
GOING INTERNATIONAL: Rakuten Girls squad leader Ula Shen said she was surprised that baseball fans outside of Taiwan not only knew of them, but also knew their names Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Oakland Athletics on Saturday hosted its first Taiwanese Heritage Day event at the Oakland Coliseum with a performance by Taiwanese cheerleading squad the Rakuten Girls and a video message from Vice President William Lai (賴清德). The Rakuten Girls, who are the cheerleaders for the CPBL’s Rakuten Monkeys, performed in front of a crowd of more than 2,000 people, followed by a prerecorded address by Lai about Taiwan’s baseball culture and democratic spirit. Taiwanese pitcher Sha Tzu-chen (沙子宸), who was signed by the Athletics earlier this year, was also present. Mizuki Lin (林襄), considered a “baseball cheerleading goddess” by Taiwanese
WAY OF THE RUKAI: ‘Values deemed worthy often exist amid discomfort, so when people go against the flow, nature becomes entwined with our lives,’ a student said “Run, don’t walk” after your dreams, Nvidia cofounder and chief executive officer Jensen Huang (黃仁勳) told National Taiwan University (NTU) graduates yesterday, as several major universities held in-person graduation ceremonies for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. “What will you create? Whatever it is, run after it. Run, don’t walk. Remember, either you’re running for food, or you are running from becoming food. Oftentimes, you can’t tell which. Either way, run,” he said. Huang was one of several tech executives addressing graduating students at Taiwanese universities. National Chengchi University held two ceremonies, with alumnus Patrick Pan (潘先國), who is head of Taiwan
A 14-legged giant isopod is the highlight of a new dish at a ramen restaurant in Taipei and it has people lining up — both for pictures and for a bite from this bowl of noodles. Since “The Ramen Boy” launched the limited-edition noodle bowl on Monday last week, declaring in a social media post that it had “finally got this dream ingredient,” more than 100 people have joined a waiting list to dine at the restaurant. “It is so attractive because of its appearance — it looks very cute,” said the 37-year-old owner of the restaurant, who wanted to be