Tackling Hsuehshan Tunnel Congestion

A contest sponsored by Ford Motor is seeking ideas for expediting travel between Taipei and Yilan.

In the latest initiative in its Innovate Mobility Challenge to help solve knotty transportation problems in markets around the world, the Ford Motor Co. has launched a public competition to stimulate ideas for moving people more efficiently between Taipei and the popular tourist destination of Yilan County. Especially on weekends and holidays, traffic on Freeway No. 5 connecting the two locations is often acutely congested.

The biggest bottleneck tends to the nearly 20-kilometer-long Hsuehshan Tunnel – the second longest road tunnel in East Asia and fifth longest in the world – in part because motorists tend to drive through the tunnel at slower speeds than required and leave extra distance between vehicles. The normal driving time through the tunnel of about 30 minutes often doubles during peak hours. Alternative highway routes and public transportation options currently provide no time savings.

Partnering with Taiwan’s Institute for Information Industry, Ford is offering cash awards – including a Grand Prize of US$15,000 – for the best prospective solutions submitted before November 19. Solutions from developers must include a software component, such as a smartphone, tablet, or web app. Details of the competition can be found at the website hsuehshantunnel.devpost.com/.

Similar crowd-sourcing challenges are currently also being carried out by Ford under Series 2.0 of the Innovate Mobility Challenge in Brazil’s Sao Paulo and in Mexico City. Another, involving travel into the Australian Outback, recently concluded. Last year’s Series 1.0 focused on locations in Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe.

“We’re thrilled to announce this challenge and to work toward a solution to the congestion on Freeway 5,” said Thomas Fann, president of the Ford Lio Ho Motor Co., Ford’s joint venture in Taiwan. “This is an issue that impacts millions of people in Taiwan, and working with local stakeholders like the Institute for Information Industry of Taiwan ensures we have the data and insight to make change happen.” Contestants will have access to three months of historical weather and traffic data, plus abundant information about the Hsuehshan Tunnel, Freeway 5, and alternate routes.