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CNY toll-free highway hours extended from 9 pm to 7 am

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The toll-free period for using freeways has been officially extended from seven to 10 hours daily from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, the Legislative Yuan said yesterday.

According to the Transportation Ministry, from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, freeways will be free of charge from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily during Chinese New Year holidays.

The Transportation Ministry said, during pay hours of the holiday, drivers will not be charged handling fees when paying tolls.

The Legislative Yuan yesterday approved the extended free-of-charge period proposed by Kuomintang (KMT) legislators during the extra session, and the administrative department said that they will execute the new policy.

Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said that this policy is the best choice.

In the proposal, the legislators also demanded the Transportation Ministry to continue asking the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co. (FETC) to improve its freeway toll system and conduct strict inspections on the electronic toll collection system.

The proposal also asked the Transportation Ministry to fine the FETC if the company conducts any actions that do not meet contract stipulations.

The National Freeway Bureau (NFB, 高公局) said that the original estimation for traffic jams is from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 29, but with the new extended free period, the amount of vehicles that enter freeways during that period of time might decrease as some drivers might wait until 9 p.m. to use the freeways.

The NFB said that once the main lines of freeways start to form traffic jams, the ramp control that is not scheduled to be executed during the free-of-charge period will be carried out.

According to the NFB, with the new extended free hours, the amount of traffic after 9 p.m. will be higher than originally estimated, so stricter ramp control might be carried out in order to manage the speed of traffic flow on freeways to above 60 kilometers per hour.

The NFB said that since there is no historical information for reference, it is hard to predict how many cars will wait until the extended free period to enter the freeways during the holidays, so the bureau suggested drivers to check the traffic situation on freeways before hitting the roads.

According to the NFB, the peak time for traffic might fall during 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. during the Chinese New Year holidays.

Since the free 20 kilometers for each vehicle each day will be canceled during holidays, the NFB said, the bureau worries that it might cause traffic jams on local roads.

The NFB said that the bureau will work with local police departments to monitor local traffic, and if there are any traffic jams formed, the ramp control will be loosened so some cars can enter freeways first to relieve the traffic jams on local roads.

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Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislators Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋), left, Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純), center, and Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), raise signs at the Legislative Yuan, yesterday. The toll-free period for using freeways has been officially extended from seven to 10 hours daily from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, the Legislative Yuan said yesterday. (CNA)

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