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CF slams Yeh for breaking eTag promises

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Consumers' Foundation (CF, 消費者基金會) yesterday slammed Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) for breaking his promises regarding the eTag system since its launch in January.

Yeh had promised prior to the launch that motorists without an eTag electronic toll collection system installed in their vehicles can still receive a 10-percent discount on freeway fees if the payment is made on time.

“Aside from breaking his promises, Yeh also did not provide a record of eTag profits and discounts, and he refused to release the contract that the Transportation and Communication Ministry signed (with the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co. [FETC]) ... he should step down if he is still unable to guarantee the rights of consumers,” said a CF official.

Earlier in January, the Legislative Yuan's Transportation Committee cancelled the National Freeway Bureau's (NFB) policy to provide a 10-percent discount on freeway fees for eTag users and a 5-percent discount for non-eTag users due to the unfairness of the policy toward motorists.

The discount cancellation triggered complaints from some consumers.

Foundation Chairman Mark Chang (張智剛) stated in the CF press conference yesterday that Yeh promised last October that users would receive a 10-percent discount if the toll is paid within three days as well as a non-commission service starting in July, said the foundation. “It is nearing the end of July, but the NFB started making excuses last month, claiming that the newly revised eTag system would need an additional trial period of two to three months, also saying that it was not sure when the system would be officially launched,” said Chang, who slammed the NFB for “protecting those who broke their promises.”

According to Chang, laws that regulate the highway tolls state that the company or government unit collecting the freeway fees should clearly state the license plate numbers, the type of vehicle and the time, date and direction when it passes through the highway. “But the NFB also stated numerous times that it would be against the Personal Information Protection Act to provide said information and made excuses for the FETC and justified protecting the (flawed system),” said Chang.

CF Compared to Toll Systems in Other Countries

The Consumers Foundation has discovered that the toll collection systems in other countries allow consumers who have filed applications to receive transcripts and detailed information of their highway usage and payments, including the United States' E-ZPass, FasTrak, Singapore's Electronic Road Pricing, Hong Kong's Autotoll Tag, said Chang. “Why can't Taiwan make it when other countries obviously can?”

Additionally, the foundation also stated that the FETC should absorb the NT$5 commission fee it has been charging consumers in designated toll collecting stations.

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