The toll rates on privately financed expressways, which currently run three times as high as the tolls on state-run expressways, are projected to be cut down to the public fee levels by 2022.
On Monday, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance announced a roadmap on the management of toll rates of privately-run expressways at the 15th economic ministerial meeting. According to the transport ministry, the average fee of 18 private express highways across South Korea is 1.43 times more expensive than publicly-operated expressways. The ministry is drawing up a three-phase plan to lower the toll rates of private expressways, roughly to 110 percent of public toll fees by the year of 2022.
If the roadmap is implemented as planned, the toll rate per vehicle for the Incheon International Airport, which currently stands at 6,600 Korean won for the maximum distance, will be cut almost in half to slightly north of 3,000 Korean won. The fee on the expressway linking Daegu and Busan will also drop from 10,500 won to 4,500 won.
The ministry of transport is considering either restructuring or refinancing the business depending on the financial status of each privately owned express highway in the country. Restructuring is a scheme where the operator is replaced to attract new investments or the operation period is extended from 30 to 50 years to make up the loss resulting from the cut in toll fees.
“We are planning to lower the rates by having consultations with private operators instead of spending national budget,” said an official from the ministry. “But the actual amount of cut could vary since we cannot force to change the MRG contract initially signed with the private operators.”
The government will also put in 12 trillion won (including 3.3 trillion won of local government budgets) to build 160 public exercise centers within a 10-minute drive from anywhere in the country and improve the quality of everyday infrastructure such as culture centers or old public rental housing.
In addition to the exercise centers, the government will provide support for the construction of 234 “Small Libraries,” the remodeling work of 50 old public libraries, as well as facility maintenance of 450 traditional markets across the nation. The government is also planning to create “Windpath Forests” in 10 cities including Seoul and Jeonju to cool down the temperatures and prevent the influx of fine dusts. A sum of 50 billion won will be spent for the improvement of dilapidated public rental housing.
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