Highway fare discounts scrapped for Ching Ming
By Katherine Wei, The China Post
March 6, 2014, 12:10 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Following the traffic congestion that occurred during the 228 Memorial holidays, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC) yesterday announced that it will be scrapping the highway fare discounts for the upcoming Ching Ming Festival.
The MOTC would devise a series of highway toll rates and new railway ticket fees for each national holiday that coincides with a weekend, when many people would be traveling through Taiwan for family trips or making the journey home for reunions. Although the MOTC had decided on using a similar highway toll rate as during the Chinese New Year holiday because it was efficient in reducing traffic jams and a flat 25-percent discount on toll fares from Feb. 28 to Mar. 2 — changes, however, only resulted in traffic congestion once again on the Memorial holidays.
After complaints and demands from the legislators that the MOTC promised, the traffic problems will not resurface during the Ching Ming holidays, which also falls on an extended weekend, Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) replied that it was a promise he would not be able to make, but the MOTC will be reviewing its past mistakes and do its best in the future.
Many people complained that the MOTC had only succeeded in ruining the holidays for them as its highway plans never seemed to work accordingly. In order to prevent similar traffic jams from occurring, the MOTC noted that it would be canceling the free toll fares and implement a single-fare-system for all vehicles.
At Least 3 People Per Car: NFB
The Ching Ming holidays from April 4 to April 6 will draw approximately 220 million to 260 million vehicles to the national highways, so the MOTC will be carrying out stricter traffic control, said National Freeway Bureau (NFB, 高公局) Director-General Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁).
In order to relieve the heavy traffic that usually occurs on National Highway 5, the first and second days of the holiday call for at least three people per vehicle for access onto the highway; the toll-free period will be discussed soon, said Tseng. Kuomintang Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) criticized the traffic problems and suggested that the MOTC may as well tell people to stay home during the holidays. Lo's opinion was seconded by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤), who noted that the MOTC should start planning for holidays earlier.
Both the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) and Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) announced that there will be additional trains starting from April 3 to 7. The TRA will add another 179 trains to its schedule, and THSR another 102; the latter's early bird tickets are on sale starting March 7. Passengers can start purchasing holiday tickets 14 days prior the scheduled date of departure.