Thu, Jul 05, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Hau, Ma left hanging in cable car

`TECHNICAL GLITCHES' A faulty door lock and bad weather kept the Maokong cable system from a smooth first day, amid complaints about the heat

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

People line up to ride the cable car system on its first day of formal operations yesterday.


Shrugging off a shutdown yesterday morning that left Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and former mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) hanging in mid-air, hundreds of people rode Taipei's Maokong Cable Car after the system officially opened yesterday afternoon.

The temporary shutdown left Hau, Ma and several city officials and reporters hanging in the air for more than 10 minutes.

Hau brushed off the shutdown as a glitch caused by a faulty cabin door as he defended the safety of the system.

"A cabin door was unable to close, and so the system shut down automatically. It was a technical problem and we will examine the issue. But it was not a safety concern," Hau said after alighting at the cable car system's Taipei Zoo Station.

An afternoon thundershower triggered several more shutdowns in the afternoon.

New Public Works Department Director Lee Shu-chuan (李四川) said the system was equipped with lighting conductors, but would stop operating in bad weather for safety reasons.

The heat and humidity in the cabins drew complaints from the passengers, despite the city government's efforts to increase the number of holes in the cabins. Fans were also handed out to the crowds waiting at the stations.

"It's like sitting in an oven. I can't stop sweating," a passenger surnamed Chen said.

In response to the flood of complaints about the cabin temperatures, which are usually 3oC higher than the outside temperature, Hau promised to improve the ventilation system within six months.

The city government was also hit with a barrage of complaints for failing to publicize the official opening time of 2pm. Many people had arrived at the Taipei Zoo Station by 6am believing the system would be running in the morning.

Despite the glitches and complaints, Hau thanked city staffers and the French firm POMA for their hard work over the past year.

"The completion of the system was the result of continuous efforts by both the Ma and Hau municipal teams. It is our summer gift to Taipei residents," he said.

Ma also praised POMA for insisting on a 12-week test run period to ensure the system's safety.

Opening day was was delayed a month because of safety concerns and noise pollution complaints.

The system, which cost more than NT$1.3 billion (US$39.3 million), is the only cable car system in the country that traverses a mountainous region for its entire route.

The system will operate from 9am to 10pm Monday to Friday, and 8:30am to 10pm on weekends and holidays.

Mass rapid transit (MRT) EasyCards can be used to pay for a ride. Tickets cost NT$30, NT$40 and NT$50 depending on the length of the ride.

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