Highway toll fees, train ticket prices to go up slightly
The hikes will take effect from the end of this month for highway tolls and in mid-December for KTX tickets.
The ministry said it would expand discounts during rush hour while applying extra charges during weekends. Although the announcement stated that there would be an average of a 2.9 percent increase in highway toll fees, the ministry explained that it was a really a 1.76 percent increase, considering discounts during rush hour.
Currently, only large vehicles - classified as first-class vehicles - such as vans for 16 passengers or fewer, buses, trucks and cars with more than three passengers can receive a 50 percent discount on highway toll fees between 5 and 7 a.m. and again from 8 to 10 p.m. But from the end of this month, the 50 percent discount will include all vehicles. The existing 20 percent discount for all vehicles from 7 to 9 a.m. and 6 to 8 p.m., times adjacent to rush hour, will remain the same.
During weekends and public holidays, a 5 percent increase in highway toll fees will be applied. However, the extra charge will only be imposed on first-class vehicles from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“We froze the highway toll fees from 2006 despite rising prices to help lessen the burden for commuters,” a ministry official said. “However, we have decided to increase the fees by a small margin for the first time in five years following the exacerbated financial situation of the country’s expressway corporation.”
The ministry expects the rise in toll fees to reduce gas consumption by 52.42 million liters (13.85 million gallons) on average as well as decrease carbon dioxide emissions by about 114,547 tons a year.
Meanwhile, rail fares will also see an increase from mid-December.
The ministry said that after considering numerous factors such as inflation and an increase in maintenance costs, about a 7 percent increase was necessary, but added that it would limit the increase to 2.93 percent to lighten the burden on passengers.
The ministry emphasized that the 2.93 percent increase would only be applied to the country’s high-speed KTX, while other trains, including Saemaeul and Mugunghwa that are more widely used by commuters, would see a 2.2 percent and 2 percent increase, respectively.
By Yim Seung-hye [firstname.lastname@example.org]