Fri, Dec 08, 2017 - Page 8 News List

Free buses will not end pollution

By Wang Min-ling 王敏玲

Furthermore, over the long term, transferring between buses and the metro on a daily basis can cost more than riding a scooter.

However, scooter riders directly inhale extremely unhealthy air while in traffic. Many studies have shown that during traffic congestion, idling scooters emit a great amount of hazardous air pollutants, including volatile organic compounds, heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

A commute of 20 to 30 minutes is enough for a scooter driver wearing a mask to breathe in considerable amounts of toxins. Over time, this will take a great toll on people’s health and its negative effects are difficult to estimate.

National Cheng Kung University law profesor Wang Yu-Cheng (王毓正) has said that from a legal standpoint and based on the Constitution, which protects people’s rights to live healthily, members of the public should be entitled to free public transportation to avoid being exposed to air pollution.

National Taiwan University professor Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) has said that people are exposed to air pollution while waiting for buses at bus stops.

This is something that the regulatory authorities for diesel trucks and buses — the largest sources of vehicle emissions — must address. The EPA must speed up its “14 plus N” policy, in particular the parts addressing the reduction of diesel car emissions.

Coal-fired power plants should be replaced with natural gas power plants as soon as possible. Measures that address the root causes of air pollution, including power plants in central and southern Taiwan, should be implemented before their scheduled deadlines to minimize pollution.

Hopefully, one day residents of southern Taiwan will be able to leave home without having to wear face masks. If not, they will probably have to build their own bus stops with air purifiers.

Wang Min-ling is deputy executive director of the Citizen of the Earth Foundation.

Translated by Tu Yu-an

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