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Mon, Sep 04, 2000 - Page 2 News List

A cable car conundrum

Those who oppose a controversial planned cable car system that would begin in Hsin Peitou and ferry tourists to Yangmingshan National Park say that the project would be an eyesore, violate the area's cultural heritage and do little for local business owners. Taipei Times Staff reporter Ko Shu-ling listened to the city government and local residents to hear both sides of the story concerning the NT$1 billion development plan

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The proposed 4.9km cable car project to link Hsin Peitou with the Yangmingshan National Park would have four stops, the first of which would be built near the skating rink at Chinshui Park (pictured). It would continue to Lungfeng Valley on Yangmingshan, the first parking lot in Yangmingshan National Park, and terminate at the second parking lot.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF LIVING ENVIRONMENT MAGAZINE

With Taipei poised to build the city's first cable car system in Peitou District, cultural workers and local opposition leaders are going head-to-head with the city to voice their strong opposition to the plan.

While the city insists that the line is designed to ease traffic problems in Yangmingshan National Park and to boost the waning economy of Peitou District, opponents argue that it will do just the opposite.

"As a local resident, I don't appreciate the prospect of having our skyline marred by a cable car line combined with a mass of tourists coming here during the flower season," said Huang Kuei-kuan (黃桂冠), convener of the Peitou Ecology and Humanity Studio (北投生態文史工作室) and a teacher at Peitou Elementary School.

Huang and other opponents of the cable car system began their battle on July 18 when Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) officially expressed his intention to go ahead with the project and construct it using the BOT (built-operate-transfer) model -- meaning the city will team up with private contractors who will build the project, while the city provides the land, which it acquired for only NT$150 million. This is seen as the fastest and most cost-effective way to complete the project.

In an attempt to persuade the city to drop the project, opponents have launched an unofficial signature drive -- which has so far amassed over 3,000 individual signatures from local communities.

They also have sent out e-mails and used the media to make their voices heard.

In a bid to quell the antagonism, the city on July 31 gave an official presentation to outline the benefits of the project. A second presentation will be held tomorrow.

The project is one of the promises made by Mayor Ma during his election campaign and it seems that the city may eventually go ahead with it, one way or another.

The proposed line is 4.9km long, would cover 1.6 hectares over four boroughs, and is set to have four stops, with the starting point being at the skating rink located at the Chinshui Park (親水公園) in Hsin Peitou, continuing on to Lungfeng Valley (龍鳳谷) on Yangmingshan, the first parking lot in Yangmingshan National Park, and finishing off at the second parking lot.

The city hopes to complete the one-year, NT$1 billion project by the end of 2003.

The history of the project is a long one. It dates back to 1979 when then-Taipei mayor Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) abrogated prostitution in Peitou. Although the move eliminated over half of the notorious hot springs hotels where prostitution was conducted, it also endangered the area's economy.

The original plan

In a bid to boost the region's economy as well as to ease the traffic problem, Yangmingshan National Park Headquarters (YNPH, 陽明山國家公園) in 1989 commissioned a US-based research center, RHAA, to come up with possible solutions to these problems. One of the two alternatives the center proposed was to build a network of cable cars connecting the park with Peitou, Tienmu, Tamsui, and Niuputzu (牛埔子).

The YNPH in 1991 entrusted a Taiwan-based research company, Central Engineering Consultant and Research Inc (中央營建技術顧問研究社), to conduct a study on the construction of a cable car system in the Peitou area.

Three possible routes were proposed: the first option would begin at Peitou Hot Spring Public Bath Pool (北投溫泉公共浴場) and end at Yangmingshan; the second was to start from the pool and end at Yangmingshan, with a middle station at Lungfeng Valley (龍鳳谷); and the third option suggested beginning at Lungfeng Valley and ending at Yangmingshan.

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