Freeway drivers yesterday experienced heavy congestion on the first day of the Dragon Boat Festival long weekend, with some complaining that it took four hours to drive from New Taipei City’s Banciao District (板橋) to Yilan County.
Freeway Bureau data showed that the severest congestion occurred on the southbound lanes of Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (Freeway No. 5), where traffic had been heavy since Wednesday evening.
The average speed of traffic in the Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道) on the freeway did not exceed 40kph for 30 consecutive hours, the bureau said, adding that this had never happened before.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Most of the traffic was caused by people traveling home and those going on domestic tours, the bureau said.
Congestion on Freeway No. 5 would likely not alleviate until 8pm yesterday, whereas the amount of traffic on other freeways would gradually decrease after 4pm, it added.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) yesterday morning inspected the bureau’s traffic control center for the northern region.
The heavy congestion occurred because it was the first long weekend since the Central Epidemic Command Center relaxed its COVID-19 disease prevention measures on June 7, Lin said.
The volume of traffic on Wednesday rose by 9 percent compared with the day before the holiday last year, he said, adding that yesterday’s traffic volume was already up by 20 percent year-on-year at 9am.
“Congestion occurs when the volume of traffic increases by 20 percent in a short period of time, as it exceeds the capacity of the freeways. We encourage drivers to take advantage of the ‘Freeway 1968’ app to get regular traffic updates,” he said. “Drivers need to be ‘smart’ freeway users, avoiding using roads at peak hours and bypassing congestion-prone sections.”
The bureau said that it was using all means available to ease congestion on the freeways, such as high-occupancy vehicle controls, ramp meters regulating the number of vehicles entering freeways, nighttime toll-free hours and opening up the hard shoulder on certain sections.
Drivers should travel during off-peak hours and take the alternative routes recommended by the bureau, such as Highway No. 61, Lin said.
“We remind freeway drivers to stay safe and not to drive when they are tired. Traffic flow stalls whenever an accident happens,” he said.
Meanwhile, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday had yet to receive any transit passengers, Taoyuan International Airport Corp (TIAC) said, adding that it would take airlines and passengers some time to become familiar with the new rules.
“These are unusual circumstances and it is difficult to forecast when transit passengers will arrive,” TIAC senior vice president Fan Hsiao-lun (范孝倫) said.
The airport has been reopened to transit passengers who plan to stay at the airport for less than eight hours.
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