Tax hike leads NEXCO to boost rates
Japan’s new consumption tax is now in effect, and Okinawa Expressway operator NEXCO has increased tolls to compensate for the new rate.
The Director of Operations for NEXCO Okinawa, Hirotoshi Chinen, says the April 1st tax hike has led his company to boost toll fees approximately three percent. The consumption tax hike from 5% to 8% caused a review of all subsidized programs including standard expressway and Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) cardholder fees.
Chinen says the good news from the Central Government is an agreement to continue subsidizing the expressway tolls 35% off the “standard” rates until 2017. One of the primary goals for the continued subsidy is to relieve heavy traffic on municipal roads with mass island-wide transit system unavailable at this time.
Some toll fees on the Okinawa Expressway have been increased and some were not on April 1st. Chinen explains the 3% increase in the consumption tax will not result in a flat 3% at all toll exits. The formula for the updated toll fees is based other factors such as the distance between exits with the total fee rounded to ten yen. Therefore, some tolls increased where others have actually decreased.
Chinen also describes a revised discount program for ETC cardholders, also in effect since April 1st. The previously automatic 50% discount between 6-9 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. is now based on use of the expressway, with credit applied in the following month. Cardholders must now use the expressway more than ten times per month for the 50% discount to start. A new points program has also been added for cardholders with the following example for the first level: ¥10,000 in toll fees = 1,000 points = ¥500 credit. Cardholders must go online and register to use the points program. The problem is that, at least for now, the NEXCO website is only in Japanese. The website to register is at http://www.smile-etc.jp/mlgtouroku_service.html