Toll booth removal proceeds smoothly

By Joy Lee ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) yesterday said that the removal of highway toll booths has not caused any traffic jams so far and should not affect the traffic during the upcoming Chinese New Year.

With the official launch of the new highway toll system, all 23 toll booths along the highways have been scheduled to be torn down from the end of this month and the work is planned to be completed after the Chinese New Year holidays.

Yeh said that so far there has not been any issue caused by the removals, and during Chinese New Year the construction will be put to a halt so traffic will not be affected.

Meanwhile, the National Freeway Bureau (NFB) yesterday said that on the first day of the launch of the new highway toll system, no irregular traffic flow or incidents took place.

The NFB also said that even though drivers do not have to slow down to make payments at toll booths after the new highway toll system is carried out, they are still required to slow down to around 50 kilometers per hour when approaching the toll booths due to the removal work.

According to the NFB, the first three days after the launch are slated to be a transition period, meaning the system will be halted from Dec. 30 until 11:59 p.m., Jan. 1, with vehicles granted free admission during the transition period.

The NFB said that owing to the three days free of charge, the bureau’s income from highway toll fees will decrease by about NT$180 million.

The new highway toll system will charge small-vehicle drivers NT$1.2 per kilometer to use the island’s highways, with each car allotted 20 free kilometers per day, the NFB said. However, if small-vehicle drivers exceed 200 kilometers within one day, fees will drop to NT$0.9 per kilometer.

Toll Collectors Tear Up Many toll collectors yesterday teared up while watching teams remove the sign for the Taisun Toll Booth due to the launch of the new highway toll system.

Taisun Toll Booth, which is the largest and oldest toll booth in Taiwan, was officially retired from service yesterday, and many toll collectors attended the ceremony to witness the removal of the toll booth sign, hoping to memorize more details about the place where they worked for years.

Some toll collectors who are now unemployed also demanded that the Transportation Ministry not only pay them severance, but also pay them seven-months’ worth of bonuses.

The NFB said that the bureau will pay the toll collectors based on regulations, and they can receive full payment by Jan. 15.