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NT$500,000 daily fine if eTag not 99.9% accurate

The eTag electronic toll collection system is poised to go through a rigorous 90-day trial by an assessment committee, with Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co. (FETC, 遠通電收) facing stiff fines if the system's accuracy proves to be inadequate.

The trial will coincide with the expected peak in motor traffic over the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday, offering the system a shot at redemption after its glitch-ridden launch.

The National Freeway Bureau (NFB, 高公局) yesterday announced that a seven-member committee will begin its 90-day assessment to gauge the accuracy of the eTag system on Feb. 1, concluding the study on Apr. 30. The NFB committee outlined two key performance indicator requirements to gauge the accuracy of the eTag toll collection gates. The assessment method will use toll collection data from 10-minute portions of records from seven eTag gates on a daily basis over the assessment period.

Committee Sets Two Daily Performance Metrics

The committee stated that each of the seven eTag gates sampled must exhibit a 99.9 percent accuracy rating each and a total average accuracy rating of 99.8 percent.

At an average toll collection rate of 3,000 in a 10-minute period, there must not be more than three errors at each of the seven randomly selected gates, or three errors per every 21,000 expected toll collections.

Fines of NT$500,000 will be imposed on FETC for each day the eTag system fails to meet the above requirements.

Currently, the eTag system consists of 319 gates throughout Taiwan's highway system. With toll collection data drawn in 10-minute samples from seven randomly selected gates daily, each gate in the system is expected to be tested at least two times over the 90-day trial.

The NFB, however, stated that due to the time required for the assessment of toll collection data, the data from the trial's first day on Feb. 1 may not be derived until Feb. 8. The NFB stated that early results of the trials may be published as soon as after the conclusion of the Chinese New Year holiday, and that in one month it will be well-informed regarding the eTag system's overall accuracy.

Meanwhile, FETC stated that it has improved the eTag system's manned-toll collection assessment and customer service capabilities, and that it hopes to keep error rates at a minimum and to meet the NFB's requirements.

The eTag system has been embroiled in a slew of controversies since its launch at the end of last year, including dissatisfaction from motorists who claim to have been charged incorrect freeway usage fees, concerns over the control of personal information by business conglomerates and the plight of laid off toll collection employees.

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