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NFB announces suspension of tolls during CNY holiday

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- From 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the Chinese New Year holidays, drivers may use the freeways at no cost, Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said yesterday.

Yeh said that due to the soon-to-be launched freeway toll system that will charge drivers based on the distances they travel, the traffic will less intense during this upcoming Chinese New Year holidays.

The National Freeway Bureau (NFB) said that it originally planned to make the time period for free highway use from 12 a.m. to 7 a.m., but the bureau finally decided on 11 a.m. to 6 a.m.

According to the NFB, the bureau still has not decided if the no-cost usage of freeways should start on Jan. 29 or Jan. 30 — the latter is the day of Chinese New Year's Eve — so more details will be published soon.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said that there will be construction on freeways to remove toll stations during the Chinese New Year holidays, which could affect the traffic flow.

Yeh said that before the holiday season, the toll stations located on the inner five lanes of freeways will be removed, which should keep the average vehicle speed at around 90 kilometers per hour.

“Even though the work to remove all the toll stations will be ongoing, during the holidays the construction will be halted in order to ensure smooth traffic on freeways,” said Yeh.

Lee also pointed out that the NFB encouraged drivers who plan to travel long distances to take National Highway 3, while other drivers traveling towards Northern parts of Taiwan can take National Highway 1, but the policy actually costs those drivers who take the long route on Highway 3 NT$116 more for round trips.

Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁), head of the NFB, said that the bureau noticed the issue and has been discussing whether or not to offer 10 or 20 percent discounts on freeway tolls for drivers traveling on National Highway 3 during the Chinese New Year holidays.

NFB to Pay FETC for 20 Kilometers of Free Highway Usage

The NFB will have to pay the fees for the 20 kilometers of free highway usage to the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co., Ltd. (FETC) with drivers' toll payments, according to the contract between the bureau and the FETC.

Based on the contract, the FETC will report the lost income from freeway tolls during the holidays, a figure that takes into account the total amount of recorded mileage to the NFB. The contract protects the FETC and ensures that they receive their allotted income regardless of any promotions the NFB provides to drivers.

The NFB said that the toll fees drivers pay for using freeways and the fees that the bureau will pay to the FETC are based on different rates, but the NFB does not have an extra budget to pay the FETC, which suggests that the payment will come from the toll fees that drivers pay to the bureau.

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