Lawmakers were busy trying to bring home the bacon at the legislature’s Transportation Committee meeting yesterday, asking the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to expand MRT systems to reach more cities they represent.
They passed resolutions to extend the Taichung MRT route to Taiping (太平) and Dali (大里) of Taichung County and the Taichung Port and to stretch the Kaohsiung MRT route all the way to the Southern Taiwan Science Park in Tainan County and to Pingtung County.
Two of the proposals were made by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Lien-fu (江連福), who represents a district in Taichung, while another resolution was proposed by KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), who represents a district in Kaohsiung.
Vice Minister of Transportation and Communications Ho Nuan-hsuen (何煖軒) said the ministry simply cannot afford to construct all the train routes proposed by the legislators.
“We have already approved some of the projects, which cost more than NT$300 billion [US$9.7 billion]. But if we include all those [projects] that have yet to be approved, we would need about NT$1 trillion to execute all of them. This is beyond our capacity,” he said.
He said on average, each kilometer of a MRT line costs approximately NT$4 billion. He said that the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA), the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp and freeway bus operators should be key transportation carriers between cities.
The ministry said it has budgeted NT$5 million this fiscal year for Taipei City’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems to evaluate the feasibility of extending the Airport Rail System to Sijhih (汐止) in Taipei City and Keelung.
The ministry also said the Airport Rail might not be able to launch on time, as contractors are unwilling to handle government projects due to rising prices of steel and other construction materials.
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