The ridership on the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system saw a decline of 92,000 a day for two consecutive days after Wednesday’s killing spree, which left four people dead and 24 injured, Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC, 台北捷運公司) said yesterday.
TRTC, the company that operates the Taipei MRT, said the number of passengers the MRT system transported on Thursday was 1.785 million, a decrease of 92,000 compared with the number of passengers it carried on Thursday last week.
And yesterday, as of 3pm, there was a decline of 90,000 in passenger numbers, 840,000, compared with the same period on Friday last week, TRTC official Yang Chin-heng (楊秦恒) said.
TRTC said the number of passengers fluctuates every day for various reasons, including weather conditions. It added that the company would continue to conduct a long-term review of how the incident might be affecting ridership.
The killing spree happened at 4:20pm on Wednesday when Cheng Chieh (鄭捷) allegedly attacked passengers with a 30cm long fruit knife onboard a train on the system’s Bannan Line, which at the time was traveling between Longshan Temple Station and Jiangzicui Station.
The parents of the 21-year-old suspect said yesterday that they were at a loss as to what led to the incident and expressed deep sorrow to the families of the four people killed.
In a statement released yesterday, Cheng’s parents said they were pained, shocked and baffled, and no matter how much they apologize, it would never be enough to make up for the pain and suffering inflicted.
The parents said they blame themselves for Cheng’s behavior and will not try to shift the blame.
The statement closed with a plea for others not to imitate the bloody attack.
The written statement was read by New Taipei City Councilor Lin Kuo-chun (林國春), who lives in the same neighborhood as the Cheng family and was asked to present it on their behalf.
The Cheng family had reportedly originally planned to make a public apology to family members of the slain and injured and society at large.
In other news, a 31-year-old man surnamed Peng (彭), who has previous convictions for defamation, was identified by netizens yesterday morning as an administrator of a Facebook page named “Cheng Chieh Fan Page,” which expressed support for the alleged killer’s actions.
The page was created on Thursday, with some posts calling Cheng a “hero.”
Peng, a resident of Miaoli County’s Toufen Township (頭份), was summoned by police for questioning and left the police station later yesterday.
The police said Peng did not create the page and neither was he involved in any irregularities, although he did copy and repost some messages on the page.
It remained unclear who created the Facebook page, the police said.
In other news, police yesterday arrested Chen Chih-wei (陳致瑋) in New Taipei City’s Sansia Township (三峽) for allegedly stabbing a man in the arm at the Taipei City Hall Station on the Bannan Line on Friday last week.
Police said that Chen stabbed a man surnamed Liu (劉) with a nail file when Liu was looking at a billboard in the station and ran away after Liu turned around.
Chen, 34, was quoted by police as saying that he “poked” Liu “inadvertently” as he was filing his nails and denied that he attacked Liu on purpose.
The police said that they had seized a 17cm long nail file at Chen’s residence and they would further look into the incident and determine whether Chen was involved in other cases.