Wed, Jul 25, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Maokong Gondola shuts down after malfunction

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Maokong Gondola system experienced another equipment malfunction yesterday afternoon, forcing Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC) to shut down the system for about four hours to inspect it.

The incident happened at Corner Two Station when TRTC workers heard some unusual noise on the headstock of a wheel, and the company immediately sent all passengers to nearby stations at 3:10pm before shutting down the system for inspections in order to prevent visitors from being trapped mid-air, the TRTC said.

The cable car resumed service at 7pm after the problem was fixed.

The incident happened only days after an equipment failure at the Corner One Station last Saturday caused a breakdown and left 323 visitors trapped in the cabins for about two hours.

Taipei City Government said that before Saturday's breakdown, a construction consultant had also heard some unusual noise in the morning, which was believed to be related to the equipment failure.

The service was also temporarily canceled at noon yesterday due to a thundershower, and resumed at 2:20pm before being canceled again for mechanical problems.

Earlier yesterday, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) once again shrugged off growing concerns over the safety of the system, insisting that the preliminary inspection found no urgent reason to halt operations.

"We continue to regard passengers' safety as our first priority," he said at Taipei City Hall.

Hau said the city government is demanding its departments, TRTC and POMA of France, the system's builder, to present an inspection and evaluation report on the system as soon as possible.

Taipei City Secretariat Deputy Director Yang Hsi-an (楊錫安) acknowledged the city government's lack of experience in operating a cable car system, but added that halting the operation would be unfair to visitors who traveled to take the gondolas.

While director of Taipei City's information department, Yang Hsiao-tung (羊曉東), claimed that there were still more than 16,000 visitors taking the car on Monday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) city councilors yesterday condemned the city government, and urged it to provide more compensation to the 323 trapped visitors.

"Those passengers were trapped mid-air for more than two hours on such a hot day. It's reasonable to ask for more than NT$10,000," DPP Taipei City Councilor Lee Wen-ying (李文英) said at Taipei City Council.

TRTC gave NT$1,058 and free tickets to each of the 323 visitors after the breakdown on Saturday.

Chen Po-ching (陳柏菁), a Taipei City Consumer Protection Ombudsman, agreed that passengers deserved better compensation, and suggested that they should apply for national compensation.

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