October 27, 2009 / 3:02 AM / 10 years ago

Japan extends highway toll discounts to New Year

TOKYO, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Japan’s government will extend highway toll discounts to weekdays during the country’s busy driving season at the beginning of New Year in a move aimed at easing homecoming traffic jams in the world’s No.3 oil consumer.

The Transport Ministry said the holiday highway discount would be applied from Friday Jan. 1 to Tuesday Jan. 5.

Highway travel has surged since March after Tokyo discounted one of the world’s highest highway tolls and a recession sapped interest in costlier overseas holidays, although environmentalists say the move runs counter to a low-carbon society that the nation should be pursuing.

Japan in March introduced a 50 percent discount on highway tolls for passenger cars and motorcycles equipped with electronic toll collection (ETC) systems on weekends and national holidays, with a ceiling of 1,000 yen ($10.84) irrespective of the distance travelled. [ID:nT253128]

The discount will not apply on the weekend of Dec. 26/27, the ministry said, to avoid passenger car congestion that would interfere with peak truck use by the goods distribution business.

The ministry also said buses and trucks would not be eligible for holiday discounts on Dec. 26/27 or on Jan. 4 and 5. ($1=92.25 Yen) (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori)

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