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Free on-board units to be given next year for highway tolls

2011/06/30 19:48:33

Taipei, June 30 (CNA) Operators of Taiwan's freeway electronic toll-collection (ETC) system said Thursday they will grant motorists free on-board units (OBUs) starting next February to encourage the use of ETC.

The re-designed OBUs will incorporate radio-frequency identification (RFID) that electronically monitor motorists as they get on and off the freeway, said Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co. (FETC), which was commissioned to set up the ETC service.

FETC said the introduction of the 6.7 by 2.5-centimeter device, or eTag, will help the company reduce costs in its efforts to popularize ETC on the nation's highways.

"We expect the incentive of free OBUs will increase the usage rate to 90 percent," said FETC Spokesperson Lang Yaling.

The usage rate measures the percentage of cars driving through toll booths on the country's highways that use the ETC system.

At present, around 1.18 million cars have OBUs installed, representing 42 percent of all highway travelers.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) expressed optimism that the new campaign will to help the FETC reach its 90 percent target, which was agreed upon in their contract to operate the nation's toll booths.

The contract stipulates that FETC must grow the ETC usage rate to 65 percent by the end of 2012 in order to pave way for a fully-automated toll collection system by 2013.

"It will be easier for us to launch distance-based tolling because drivers who install free OBUs will automatically become clients of the government," said MOTC Minister Mao Chi-kuo.

According to the National Freeway Bureau, Taiwan will fully adopt the ETC system by 2013, and will be the first country in the world to do so.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)