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New freeway toll system ready for launch

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) yesterday stated that in three days Taiwan will be ready to open the first and most complete freeway toll system that charges drivers based on distances they travel throughout the island.

A launch ceremony was held yesterday for the new toll system, to be extended throughout the national freeway system, which will make Taiwan the first country to transfer to a freeway toll system which charges drivers based on distance traveled rather than at fixed toll booths.

Yeh said that the new system has undergone revisions by five Transportation Ministers before its eventual launch.

According to Yeh, the government started to plan the new freeway toll system in 2003, and after 10 years of designing the system, the mission has finally been accomplished.

“The Transportation Ministry has faced many challenges in promoting the new freeway toll system, including signing a contract, launching the electronic toll collection (ETC) system and switching toll systems,” said Yeh.

“The ministry also tried to incorporate legislators and public'opinions when designing the new system, which made it even more difficult for the ministry to execute the new policy,” said Yeh. “However, we still found the most appropriate compromise regarding the toll system and the officials are ready to launch it on Dec. 30.”

According to Yeh, since no vehicles will have to slow down at toll booths after the new freeway toll system is launched, it will save drivers between five and 30 minutes when traveling between the north and south of the island.

Yeh said that the launch of the new freeway toll system could save at least NT$10 million in fuel costs and save up to 560 million freeway toll tickets, which will contribute cost savings of between NT$1.8 and NT$2 billion.

According to the National Freeway Bureau (NFB), usage of freeways will be provided free of charge to all drivers from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1 since it is necessary to have a grace period while the different toll systems are switched.

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, fees will drop to NT$0.9 per kilometer.

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Two toll collectors from the National Freeway Bureau check tickets collected in a booth yesterday. They will be without jobs after the new distance-based freeway toll system opens on Monday, Dec. 30. (CNA)

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