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Freeways to be toll-free at night during Lunar New Year holiday

2019/01/16 18:24:44

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍, right)

Taipei, Jan. 16 (CNA) Taiwan's national freeways will be toll-free from midnight to 5 a.m. during the nine-day Lunar New Year holiday to ease traffic congestion, new Minister of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said Tuesday.

In a Facebook post, Lin said the government's priority in that regard will be providing a safe and high-quality service on the freeways rather than collecting tolls.

Therefore, the toll-free measure will be implemented not only during the Feb 2-10 Lunar New Year holiday but also on 228 Peace Memorial Day and during the Tomb Sweeping Festival to provide greater convenience to road users, said Lin, who took office the previous day.

In past years, tolls were lifted on highways for about six hours per day on long holidays, starting at 11 p.m.

However, when Ho Chen Tan (賀陳旦) became transportation minister in May 2016, the toll-free measure during the Dragon Boat Festival that year was suspended with the aim of reducing traffic accidents on the freeways at night.

It was resumed during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday in light of the many public complaints about massive traffic congestion during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday.

The Freeway Bureau said Tuesday that in addition to the toll-free periods during the Lunar New Year holiday, special regulations on vehicle occupancy will be put in place.

The restrictions will apply on national freeways in western Taiwan, including some northbound sections of National Freeway No. 1 and National Freeway No. 3, between the hours of 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Feb. 7, the bureau said.

Similar regulations will also be imposed from 7 a.m. to noon between Feb. 5 and 7 at entrance ramps to the southbound lanes of National Freeway No. 5, and from 2 p.m.-9 p.m. Feb. 7-10 on the entrance ramps to the northbound lanes of the freeway.

Other traffic control measures for the Lunar New Year holiday will include discounts on bus tickets to encourage travelers to use public transportation.

The Directorate General of Highways said it has asked intercity bus companies to offer an average discount of 15 percent on 86 bus routes along freeways between Feb. 1 and Feb. 10.

Meanwhile, Taiwan High Speed Rail said Wednesday it will provide an additional 482 train services between Jan. 31 and Feb. 11, and online bookings will start Friday.

(By Wang Shu-feng and Evelyn Kao)
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