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New distance-based freeway toll system to start collecting on Jan. 2

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Sweeping changes to the current freeway-toll system will be implemented on Jan. 2, the National Freeway Bureau (NFB) announced yesterday, with the biggest change a transition to charging commuters based on distances traveled.

Usage of freeways will be provided free of charge to all drivers from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1, the NFB said, adding that this is the first time that Taiwan has had a freeway toll system that charges drivers based on distances traveled on the freeways. To avoid charging drivers twice within short distances on freeways during the system transition, it is necessary to have a grace period while the different toll systems are switched, the Bureau stated.

Freeway fees for small-vehicle drivers during the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays may be adjusted to NT$1 per kilometer without a daily allotment of 20 free kilometers, according to the NFB.

The NFB said, however, the adjustment has not been confirmed yet.

According to the NFB, the new freeway toll system was originally slated to enter service on Dec. 30, but in consideration of the longer distances driven by commuters during the holiday season, the NFB will provisionally revise freeway tolls due to patterns of demand.

The new freeway toll system will charge small-vehicle drivers NT$1.2 per kilometer to use the island's freeways, with each car allotted 20 free kilometers per day, the NFB said. However, if small-vehicle drivers exceed 200 kilometers within one day, the fee will drop to NT$0.9 per kilometer.

Wu Mu-fu (吳木富), deputy chief of the National Freeway Bureau's (NFB) Traffic Control Center, said that posted freeway rates will align with both the habits of drivers who use freeways to travel within short distances and drivers who have to travel long distances, but during Chinese New Year holidays, more drivers tend to travel longer distances.

There are three proposals for freeway fee structures during the Chinese New Year holidays that are now under consideration, according to the NFB: NT$0.8, NT$0.9, and NT$1 per kilometer.

The NFB said that since the new freeway toll system will have been newly launched during Chinese New Year holidays, fees during the holidays should be NT$1 per kilometer to prevent confusion for drivers.

Discounts for Drivers Without ETC in Six Months

The NFB said that drivers who do not install electronic toll collection (ETC) systems can enjoy 10-percent off over the next six months if they pay fees within five days of receiving toll charges.

According to the NFB, in order to encourage drivers to continue using the electronic toll collection (ETC) system, all vehicles equipped with ETC units will receive a 10-percent discount on freeway tolls after the new toll system is launched.

Wu said that even though drivers can register online before traveling on freeways, the system will automatically deduct freeway tolls via electronic scans at freeway toll stations.

However, Wu said, drivers are still suggested to install ETC units to avoid any potential false readings by ETC scanners.

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