Thu, Jan 04, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Pan-blues lash Tsai on ticket fiasco

CONFUSION The high speed rail has not opened for business in an ideal fashion, and legislators lined up yesterday to hold the minister to account

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pan-blue camp lawmakers sitting on the legislative Transportation Committee yesterday lashed out at Minister of Transportation and Communications Tsai Duei (蔡堆), grilling him over ticket-selling chaos at high speed rail stations on Tuesday.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wang Yu-ting (王昱婷) said the performance of the high speed rail on Tuesday, marked by confusion at stations as customers attempted to buy advance tickets, was even "worse than that of the Taiwan Railway Administration."

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said that there were no regulations to monitor the high speed rail's standards of service, and that problems like the one that occurred on Tuesday was an example of inadequate service for which there was no formal accountability.

Lee said the Railway Law would not suffice as a regulator of the high speed rail's operations.

He added that the regulations would have to be amended to ensure that the public interest was protected.

MODES OF TRANSPORT

He cited rules for other modes of transport that could be used to provide a more thorough regulatory environment for the high speed rail.

Since the rail system would be operating at speeds reaching 300kph, some provisions of the Aviation Act (民航法) might also usefully apply, he added, without elaborating on the relevance of the provisions.

PFP Legislator Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) pointed to an incident in which a passenger received a handful of NT$50 coins instead of receiving change for completing a transaction.

"The only thing that the high speed rail brings to mind is like when you're in Las Vegas, where you pull the bar on the slot machines and all the coins fall out," Liu said.

NEW PLAN

Bureau of High Speed Rail Director-General Pang Chia-hua (龐家驊) said yesterday that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications had asked the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) to submit by tomorrow a comprehensive plan on how it would improve the beleaguered ticketing system.

As regulations only require the company to improve its service within a certain -- unstated -- period of time, no fine could be imposed on the company, Pang said.

THSRC representative Ted Chia (賈先德) said yesterday that the company's board of directors had generally agreed to a proposal to extend the period of trial operations.

The original trial period ends on Sunday next week.

REGRET

The THSRC yesterday also expressed its regret at the ongoing problems with the ticket booking process.

The company insisted, however, that the situation was not as bad yesterday as on Tuesday.

It said that it would have the problems with vending machines and credit-card machines fixed soon.

At 6:30pm yesterday, the THSRC said it had sold 52,163 tickets.

The company sold 86,745 tickets on Tuesday.

Additional reporting by Jessie Ho

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