Sun, Oct 01, 2006 - Page 1 News List

CPA holiday decision brings mixed reaction

DAY OFF Some legislators expressed concern that travel plans could be thrown into turmoil by the last-minute decision to make next Monday a public holiday

By Shelley Shan and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The decision by the Central Personnel Administration (CPA) on Friday evening to make next Monday (Oct. 9) an official national holiday this year has thrown transportation plans into confusion.

The Mid-Autumn Festival this year falls on Friday with Double Ten National Day falling on the following Tuesday, which would have left the Monday in between as a work day.

CPA minister Chou Hung-hsien (周弘憲) said yesterday that the administration made the decision to add the extra day off due to pressure from the public and law-makers over the past two months. He denied the decision was made for any political reason.

To avoid a potentially chaotic situation, Minister of Transportation and Communications Tsai Duei (蔡堆) convened an emergency meeting yesterday morning where transportation officials came up with solutions to deal with the sudden change of plan.

Tsai was asked later by the press whether his ministry had been consulted before the Executive Yuan delivered the administrative order.

"We sent representatives to the Cabinet meeting, and I got the news immediately after the decision was made," Tsai replied.

"Transportation is a service industry," he added, "and we simply have to do everything based on the needs of passengers."

Tsai said transportation provisions had already taken into consideration the possibility that many passengers would take next Monday off and arrange for a five-day holiday. The adjustments which need to be made are minor, he said.

The alterations will mainly affect motorists or passengers on long distance buses or trains.

The Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau announced yesterday that motorists, whether driving through manual toll collection gates or those installed with electronic toll collection systems, will not be charged from 12am to 6am between Friday (Oct.6) and Oct. 11.

On Double Ten day, the last day of the holiday, northbound feeder roads in Chungli (中壢), Shuishang (水上) and Tainan on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway, and the feeder road in Dasi (大溪) on the Formosa Freeway will be closed.

The Directorate General of Highways said yesterday that it will now allow bus customers to change return dates without charging them processing fees.

It, however, will neither accept returned tickets nor provide refunds.

The Taiwan Railway Administration announced yesterday morning that passengers who have already purchased tickets for Oct. 7, 8, 9 and 10 may request refunds from train stations without being charged processing fees.

The administration's regulations normally require that a NT$13 processing fee be charged for each refund request. It decided not to make the charge in this case since the CPA's announcement came at the last minute.

However, passengers who plan to return their tickets must do so in person at train stations.

For those who purchased their tickets online but haven't yet picked them up at a station, the ticketing system will cancel their reservations automatically after three days. They can then re-order new tickets.

Legislators yesterday expressed mixed feelings over the Executive Yuan's last-minute announcement about the holidays.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said the decision was made in haste and the government may have been better off implementing a contingency plan so its good intentions would be better appreciated.

"The industrial sector finds it hard to deal with such an abrupt decision and some businesses have voiced complaints," Wang said. "If the government had made the decision earlier, less people would be inconvenienced."

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