Sun, Feb 06, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Government confident of traffic plans

NEW YEAR CRUSH With the annual rush home for New Year celebrations in full swing, officials have increased flight and train services in order to cope

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Millions of travelers are on the move as the Lunar New Year holidays start, transportation officials said yesterday.

By lunchtime today, thousands of drivers will have taken to the highways and thousands more travelers to the rail system. Trans-portation officials predicted that significant traffic delays will occur from today, the first of the eight-day Lunar New Year vacation.

"To ease the traffic burden during what are traditionally the busiest days of the year, we have implemented traffic controls. We have also increased the number of trains and flights to meet passenger demand," Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三) said yesterday.

The ministry is predicting that 490,000 passengers will board trains today alone.

"Tickets are sold out for the peak period from Feb. 5 to Feb. 7 [tomorrow], when people rush home before family reunion dinners are held on Tuesday. Tickets for Feb. 12, Feb. 13, and Feb. 14 are also sold out as passengers return to work. A total of 600,000 tickets has already been booked for these two peak periods," Taiwan Railway Administration director-general Hsu Ta-wen (徐達文) said.

To cope with the surge in demand, the railway authority has added an additional 528 services to its schedule. Hsu estimated that the railway system can carry as many as 590,000 passengers in a day during peak periods.

Meanwhile, 200,000 passengers are expected to fly from Taiwan to outlying islands from today. Another 880 flights have been added to schedules from last Thursday to Feb. 16, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said.

"In addition to the 5,767 ordinary flights between Feb. 3 and Feb. 16, we have added 880 flights. Since Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu rely heavily on air transportation, we have allotted most of our planes to these routes," CAA director-general Billy Chang (張國政) said.

According to Chang, the CAA this year is providing a capacity of 230,000 passengers between Taiwan and its outlying territories, a 33-percent increase on last year.

Transportation officials predict that intercity air routes will be less congested.

"Since most people take to the highways and rail, the airports are only slightly busier than usual," said Lin Chih-ming (林志明), director of the Department of Navigation and Aviation.

Heavy traffic on the country's highways will also start from today, transportation officials said. The ministry has launched no-toll measures to maintain traffic flow during peak periods.

"I am confident that people departing from Taipei can arrive in Kaohsiung in six hours," Lin Ling-san said.

The end of the holidays will be a busier time to drive, transportation officials said.

"We hope drivers returning north can avoid peak days like next [Friday and Saturday]," Lin said.

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