MRT announces discounts
In a bid to boost declining passenger figures, the Taipei Rapid Transit Corp has decided to hand out ticket discounts on all line during weekends and the Dragon Boat Festival next month, the company's public relations manager Ling Chi-yao (凌啟堯) said yesterday. The 10-day promotion includes a buy-one-get-one-free one-day pass and three-for-one tickets, Ling said. The company said that the discounts will be available at information counters in each MRT station during the promotion days. MRT traffic has slumped after the SARS epidemic broke out last month with passengers shunning public transportation to avoid contracting the disease. Daily MRT traffic reached 936,000 passengers on average in March. That figure dropped 7.1 percent to 870,000 in April and continued to fall to around 600,000 as of May 25, especially after MRT passengers were required to wear face masks, Ling said.
■ Human rights
Amnesty praises progress
A movement toward the abolition of the death penalty in Taiwan progressed last year, although nine people were executed and 100 convicted prisoners remained on death row, Amnesty International said yesterday. "Steps were taken to limit the scope and application of the death penalty, and were widely seen as moves towards its abolition," the London-based rights group said in its report last year. Taiwan's legislature was preparing a draft human rights basic law (人權基本法) and the establishment of a "National Human Rights Commission" which were also seen as leading to the abolition of capital punishment, it said. "However, no moves were made towards introducing a death-penalty moratorium," Amnesty said.
DOH apologizes for delay
Deputy Director-General of the Department of Health Lee Lung-teng (李龍騰) said yesterday that a delay in transporting a SARS patient from Penghu for more than 20 hours was due to a series of misunderstandings. Lee apologized for the delay of the transport operation and blamed the fiasco on poor communications. Penghu health authorities first asked the National Fire Administration to send a plane, but it refused to comply and the authorities had to wait for the Coast Guard Administration to send a ship to take the patient to Kaohsiung. The transport process took a total of 21 hours. Lee said that the transport operation will now only need faxed document and telephone notification so that the transport can be completed in just one hour.
SARS changes lifestyles
The SARS outbreak has changed the lifestyle of employees, according to the results of an online opinion poll released yesterday. According to the poll, 46 percent of respondents said they feel their companies' revenues have declined since the SARS outbreak began in March and 23 percent said they are worried that their companies may lay off some employees or cut their pay. Just over 56 percent said they have become less interest in shopping, while 52 percent said they have refrained from going to movie theaters and 48.3 percent said they have largely reduced the number of visits to KTVs. Meanwhile, 29 percent of male respondents said they remember to wear face masks while on public transport, 10 percent said they turned to use motorcycles or bicycles as their main form of transportation since the SARS outbreak and 4 percent said they begun driving their own cars or are taking taxis.