《TAIPEI TIMES》 Freeway revenue soars NT$500m
Vehicles drive along a section of Freeway No. 5 in New Taipei City’s Pinglin District on Jan. 3. Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
SUMMER TRAVELERS: Freeway toll fee revenue dropped from February to April last year, before recovering in the summer, with traffic volume surging up to 15 percent
By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the government’s freeway toll fee revenue last year rose by NT$500 million （US$17.56 million） thanks to an increase in the number of road travelers, Freeway Bureau data showed.
The pandemic led to a decrease in freeway traffic volume from February to April last year, on weekdays and holidays, the bureau said.
The most dramatic decline happened in April, with traffic volume dropping 5 percent on weekdays and 11 percent on weekends and holidays, it said.
However, traffic volume began to rise in May and showed positive growth in June, the bureau said.
In August, summer travelers further drove up the volume by 6 percent on weekdays and 8 percent on weekends and holidays, it said.
The swings in toll fee revenue mirrored the fluctuations in freeway traffic volume, the bureau said.
The amount of toll fees collected slid from February to April, with the largest decline of 6.2 percent recorded in April, it said.
By August, revenue had risen 9.5 percent, the bureau said.
Overall, freeway toll fees collected last year reached NT$24.2 billion, up from NT$23.7 billion in 2019, the bureau said.
The bureau also said traffic volume on the Formosa Freeway （Freeway No. 3） has surpassed that on the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway （Freeway No. 5） since June.
In June, traffic volume on Freeway No. 3 rose 6 percent, whereas that on Freeway No. 5 rose 4 percent.
However, in August the volume on Freeway No. 3 surged 15 percent, while that on Freeway No. 5 increased about 5 percent, bureau statistics showed.
Traffic volume on Freeway No. 3 rose 13 percent and 10 percent in October and December respectively, compared with increases of 9 percent and 4 percent on Freeway No. 5, the bureau said.
The bureau attributed the growth in traffic on Freeway No. 3 to its proximity to mountainous areas and scenic spots, adding that the pandemic motivated people to visit these areas.
In terms of the types of vehicles on freeways, the most significant decline was seen in the traffic caused by medium-sized to large passenger buses, the bureau said.
The largest decline happened in April, when the traffic volume of medium to large buses fell 47 percent on weekdays and 69 percent on weekends and holidays, it said.
The traffic volume of small passenger vehicles also dropped during the first four months of last year, with the decline ranging from 1 to 11 percent, before returning to growth in May, it added.
The statistics also showed that traffic volumes during the Lunar New Year, 228 Peace Memorial Day and National Tomb-Sweeping Day holidays fell 3 percent to 15 percent.
Traffic during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday, the first long weekend after the nation slightly eased disease-prevention measures, rose by 8 percent.
Business owners at freeway rest areas failed to benefit from the slight increase in freeway traffic volume, with their aggregate revenue falling 3.98 percent to NT$3.97 billion.
The number of freeway travelers frequenting the rest areas fell from 31.54 million to 30.82 million, the bureau said.