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Free highway use, weather ups CNY traffic

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The National Freeway Bureau (NFB) said yesterday that the nice weather and extended free-of-charge highway usage period caused more traffic jams this Chinese New Year.

Due to the fact that the Chinese New Year holiday lasted only six days, during which the weather was sunny nationwide, many people chose to travel or return home early this year, which led to greater traffic flow on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3 on highways nationwide, according to the bureau.

The NFB said that the highest amount of traffic took place in the afternoon on northbound highways, since most people returned to their homes to get prepared for work on this day.

According to the NFB, the traffic flow in most sections of the highways was smooth, but the Toucheng-Pinglin section of National Highway No. 5 still saw a traffic jam, with traffic slowing down to roughly 40 kilometers per hour at around 2 p.m.

There was also a 5-kilometer-long traffic jam on the northbound section near the Siluo service area on National Highway No. 1 at around 3 p.m. yesterday, due to the large amount of vehicles entering the highway through the ramp close to the entrance of the Siluo service area, the NFB said.

The NFB added that on Feb. 3, the total amount of vehicles that used the highways hit 3.05 million, lessening the number of vehicles using highways yesterday.

According to the NFB, peak hours for traffic jams were between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on northbound highways, and the total number of cars that traveled on highways was estimated between 2.4 million and 2.5 million.

From 9 p.m. on Tuesday to 7 a.m. yesterday, about 790,000 vehicles used the highways.

Chen Ting-tsai of the NFB said that the Nangang-Shiding section, which connects National Highways No. 3 and No. 5, saw higher traffic volume due to the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival.

According to the NFB, peak traffic flow during the entire Chinese New Year vacation took place on Feb. 2 with 3.12 million vehicles hitting highways on that day alone.

Travel time from Taipei to Kaohsiung was 4.6 hours on average, while travel time from Kaohsiung to Taipei was about 6.5 hours on Feb. 2, NFB said.

The NFB said that the number of vehicles using highways on Feb. 1 reached 3.05 million with roughly the same amount on Feb. 3.

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