More people apply for stop-free toll service after ETC expands service

The China Post news staff

Nearly 10,000 people were expected to apply for stop-free toll service at Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co. (FETC) branches and local convenience stores yesterday, which was the first day of a one-year-trial period the system operator launched in order to promote the use of the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system to those whose vehicles do not have ETC equipment.

“More than 700 people have applied for the service from 8 to 10 a.m. this morning nationwide,” said Lang Ya-ling, the FETC spokesperson, adding that the number had already surpassed the average number of users applying for the service in a day before the trial period began.

Lang noted that they expected the number to reach to 10,000 yesterday.

The FETC was commissioned by the Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau (TANFB) to set up the ETC service. However, the system has not been widely adopted by drivers since the FETC first introduced it in 2006. Therefore, the system operator decided to expand the service, which used to be exclusively for use by vehicles with on-board equipment, starting from yesterday for a period of 12 months.

Drivers can take advantage of the 12-month trial by registering at any of the 31 FETC branches and more than 7,000 convenience stores island wide, said the FETC. Those who wish to apply for the service need to provide his or her ID-card and vehicle information, plus a minimum NT$300 deposit to the FETC or NT$500 deposit at convenience stores for a virtual account with which authorities can track the vehicle.

The move is intended to raise the low usage rate of the system.

The FETC signed an agreement with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), which stipulates that the ETC usage rate is required to reach 45 percent by the end of June and 65 percent by the end of 2012. But according to the statistics offered by the FETC, the number is around 38 percent at present.