Highway tolls on privately run roads to drop

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Highway tolls on privately run roads to drop

Tolls on privately built and managed expressways will be lowered to the level of government-run roads after complaints of overcharging.

According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Monday, 18 privately managed expressways are 1.43 times more expensive on average than those managed by the Korea Expressway Corporation.

The expressway that charges the most is the Incheon Bridge, which is 2.89 times more. The second most pricey is the expressway connecting Daegu and Busan, which is 2.33 times higher, followed by Incheon International Airport expressway, which is 2.28 times higher.

The only privately managed expressway with tolls cheaper than on publicly managed roads was the road connecting Yongin and Seoul.

In a first phase, the government plans to lower tolls to 1.3 times that of publicly managed expressways by 2020 and to 1.1 times by 2022.

Under this plan, the 6,600 won ($5.93) toll for the expressway to Incheon International Airport could drop to 2,900 won while the 10,500 won toll on the expressway connecting Daegu and Busan could be halved to 4,500 won.

The government said in the first half it succeeded in lowering tolls on three expressways to almost the same level as that of publicly managed roads by lowering them between 10.5 percent and 33.33 percent. The three roads are the Seoul outer circular expressway, the expressway connecting Seoul and Chuncheon and the Suwon-Gwangmyeong road.

The toll for the outer circular road, which was 4,800 won, was lowered to 3,200 won while the Seoul-Chuncheon toll dropped from 6,800 won to 5,700 won and the Suwon-Gwangmyeong road is now charging 2,600 won compared to 2,900 won.

One of the ways the government lowers tolls managed by private companies is signing a new contract with another operator or extending the contract from the current 30 years to 50 years.

Another way is to change the management by sharing between the private company and the government.

Additionally the government will be searching for new businesses such as rest stops and solar power plants that would help create funding that will be used in preventing the private companies from raising tolls.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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