Thu, Sep 30, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Small protest mars opening of MRT branch

NEW BRANCH LINE Ten demonstrators protesting at the opening of the Xiaobitan line demanded officials reduce noise created by the trains

CNA , TAIPEI

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, left, leans downward during the inaugural trip on the new Xiaobitan line of the mass rapid transit system, which officially opened for passengers yesterday.

PHOTO: CHEN TSEH-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

The Xiaobitan line of Taipei's mass rapid transit (MRT) system opened yesterday amid protests from a small number of residents over noise.

Holding placards reading "MRT is a bad neighbor," 10 protesters claiming to represent people living along the route attempted to hand a letter of protest to Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) before the opening ceremony, but were blocked by police.

An embarrassed Ma promised he would order the Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) to address the problem.

Noise protest

The promise, however, failed to satisfy People First Party Legislator Cheng San-yuan (鄭三元) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Ming-tsai (羅明才), who attended the ceremony.

Cheng said that Ma's reputation would plummet and threaten his bid to run for the presidency in 2008 unless the Taipei City Government solved the noise problem.

Lo, meanwhile, asked the city government to offer a 50-percent discount for MRT rides by students and staff of schools in the neighborhood to compensate for their "suffering."

According to Chang Chi-te (常岐德), commissioner of DORTS, a series of soundproofing projects are under way along the line and will help reduce the noise.

While sound-muffling walls have been built at the opening to the underground section of the line, construction of similar walls on the elevated section will only start in November and is expected to be finished in April next year, Chang said.

4,140 passengers/hour

The 1.9-km line connects Xiaobitan Station to Qizhang Station on the Xindian Line and has a capacity of 4,140 passengers per hour, DORTS officials said.

The interval between trains is eight minutes to 12 minutes during peak hours, 12 to 15 minutes during the off peak hours , and 15 to 20 minutes before 7am and after 10pm.

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