Sunday, 5 December 2010

Will Taiwan be first with mandatory OBUs for national freeways?

Taiwan has had barrier controlled toll highways for some years, with its own bespoke developed Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system (although not electronic free flow).   Now it is moving to make it compulsory  to have OBUs by 2012 as it moves towards a distance charging system.   It is understood that this means distance measured by segment, similar to the LKW-Maut in Germany.  However, unlike the LKW-Maut it will be a DSRC (dedicated short range communication, otherwise know as tag and beacon) based measurement of distance.

The proposal is controversial, because the bespoke tags are expensive and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is still to be used and available.  In principle, the key benefit is to get rid of toll stations and the congestion they can create, but beyond that charging by distance will be closer to usage than ever before.  

If Taiwan achieves conversion to full electronic free flow on a nationwide freeway network for cars it will be a world first, as the only free flow network systems that exist are for heavy vehicles only.

(In the context of this post I am treating Taiwan, Republic of China as a sovereign state distinct from the People's Republic of China, acknowledging that there are two sovereign governments on the territory known as China.  So as a result I am using the convention that Taiwan is, de facto, a sovereign state).

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