Passengers using their EasyCards on the MRT Neihu Line from Saturday through the end of the year will receive a 36 percent discount, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said yesterday, in a goodwill gesture to compensate for the system’s recent technical troubles.
The plan is expected to cost NT$200 million (US$6 million) in revenues, Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC), the system’s operator, said in a statement yesterday. The discount will save EasyCard users up to NT$11 per trip, or up to NT$24 per trip compared with those who purchase single-trip tickets, TRTC said.
The long-awaited Neihu Line was inaugurated on July 4, but has suffered repeated glitches, including sudden stops and doors failing to open.
PHOTO : CNA
On July 10, a power outage brought the line to a stop, leaving approximately 700 passengers stranded on trains that stopped between stations. They were forced to walk to nearby stations along the tracks after it was determined that the problem could not be immediately resolved.
Many members of the public have complained that the city government should shoulder responsibility for the problems.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Hau said that in a meeting on Monday with executives of Canada-based contractor Bombardier Inc, the company promised the line would reach 99 percent reliability by mid-November as stated in the contract.
Hau yesterday apologized to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for the “inconveniences” the technical problems have caused.
Ma has come under criticism because he was the mayor of Taipei during the planning and most of the construction of the Neihu Line.
Critics blame Ma for choosing a medium-capacity system for the Neihu Line, which they say is insufficient.
At a separate setting, Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said Ma was not responsible for the decision on capacity. That decision was made by the Executive Yuan in 1993, when the Neihu Line was first approved for construction, Wang said.
Wang said that because of the narrow streets in Neihu, the central government at the time concluded that it would be difficult to build an underground line with a high capacity rate, which is what the Taipei City Council had wanted.
Wang said there was a stalemate between the central government and Taipei City Council for eight years, which ended when Ma helped resolve the quagmire with a compromise to build a medium capacity, elevated railway.
“One thing is certain: Had the government decided to build an underground, high-capacity line, the Neihu Line would still be under construction, with no end in sight. Even if we had spent NT$100 billion, the line would still not be done,” the Presidential Office spokesman said.
DPP BLAMES MA
But the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) blamed Ma for making decisions during his tenure as mayor that directly led to the current problems.
The Neihu Line was integrated with the Muzha Line, whose main contractor was a French company, Matra.
Critics say combining the lines was too ambitious and caused unnecessary difficulties resulting in several malfunctions.
DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) yesterday asked prosecutors to investigate the technical problems, adding that the DPP Taipei City Council caucus would file a lawsuit against Hau and Ma.
Cheng said the construction of the Neihu Line accounted for 45 percent of the project’s budget, while the electronic control system accounted for the remaining 55 percent.
He cited the Government Procurement Agreement (政府採購法) as saying the city government should have let companies for the electronic system lead the bid, yet the city government let construction companies lead the bid, which violated the agreement.
The company in charge of integrating the MRT’s Neihu and Muzha lines, Montreal-based Bombardier, should have been the main contractor, he said.
He said Pacific Construction Co, New Asia Construction and Development Co and RSEA Engineering Corp had approached the city government with a legal assessment in September 2002 that concluded that the construction companies and electronic system company should have tendered the bid together.
However, the city government rejected the petition, he said.
Cheng said although Bombardier was responsible for integrating the MRT systems, it should have to shoulder the major responsibility for malfunctions because it was not the main contractor.
Furthermore, the DPP demanded that Ma explain why Matra was not contracted, as it constructed the Muzha line, Cheng said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA
Two Japanese virtual YouTubers (VTubers) were suspended by their employers on Sunday after mentioning Taiwan and showing the national flag during a livestream, stoking controversy that was inflamed further when it was discovered that their management company issued distinct apologies in Japanese and Mandarin. While reading YouTube analytics over livestream on Thursday and Friday last week, Hololive VTubers Kiryu Coco and Akai Haato named Taiwan as contributing a high percentage of viewers. Users on the Chinese video streaming platform Bilibili were quick to criticize the two and report their accounts, prompting Hololive’s parent company, Cover Corp, to suspend the streamers for three
NO SIGN OF WAR: Only if Taiwanese showed determination to defend the nation would others be willing to help in the event of a Chinese attack, the premier said Should China launch a war against Taiwan, the military would fight to the last standing person, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said yesterday, adding that the nation has fully fleshed-out defense strategies. “Beijing has continued its acts of provocation against Taiwan, but there are currently no signs that it is ready to launch a full-scale war,” Yen said at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. Asked how long Taiwan could withstand an attack from China, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said: “Taiwan will not fall.” Any belligerent force that initiates acts of war would pay a heavy price, and so too would Beijing,
MISTAKE: The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is not a UN body, and the government is committed to protecting the nation’s name, Joseph Wu said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its Web site, and asked that it correct the error. The organization was inaugurated in Brussels in 2016 as a global coalition of mayors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six Taiwanese cities at the time joined the coalition as cities in “Taiwan,” the ministry said. However, officials from the Kaohsiung City Government — one of the organization’s members — last week noticed that the city was now listed on the organization’s Web site as a
MOTHERLAND? Taiwanese who take part in China’s National Day celebrations could be fined NT$100,000 to NT$500,000 if found to have contravened Taiwanese laws The Ministry of Culture yesterday cautioned China-based Taiwanese artists against breaching Taiwanese law by taking part in China’s National Day celebrations. The ministry issued the statement following media reports that Ouyang Nana (歐陽娜娜) is to sing a popular Chinese patriotic song titled My Motherland (我的祖國), and Angela Chang (張韶涵) is to sing Protect (守護) with Chinese entertainers at an event to mark China’s National Day on Thursday. The Mainland Affairs Council is investigating whether such behavior contravenes regulations in the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), the ministry said. If the behavior involves matters