An alliance of students on Thursday demanded the Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) immediately build a depot in Huilong (迴龍) to facilitate the inauguration of the Sinjhuang (新莊) Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line in two stages.
The Sinjhuang MRT line, which has been under construction since 2001, is designed to be extended to Huilong in Taipei County.
According to the original design, the Losheng (Happy Life) Sanatorium, a historical site constructed during the period of Japanese colonial rule, will be demolished and relocated in order to accommodate an MRT depot.
The controversial plan has drawn strong protests and sometimes violent confrontation over the past few years.
According to the students and Sinjhuang City residents, DORTS said at a hearing held by several legislators last year that once the construction of the substation was finished, a section of the line could be put into operation to serve Sinjhuang City and that the controversy over the sanatorium had nothing to do with the depot’s construction.
The Sinjhuang line is important for city residents, who have suffered from traffic jams for six years already because of the MRT construction, seriously affecting the business of shops in the area.
“But now, after waiting for more than a year, DORTS is still dragging its feet for no reason,” said representatives of the Youth Alliance for Losheng Sanatorium, who demanded that DORTS announce the schedule for the Sinjhuang section of the line.
In response, Fang Juang-lih (方壯勵), a DORTS official, said the final design had not been decided and that the necessary land had not been acquired.
The students accused DORTS of hiding the truth from the public and of disregarding the rights of Sinjhuang residents. They also suggested that the Sinjhuang line be extended to Taoyuan.
“If the line is extended to Taoyuan, the MRT depot could be constructed in Taoyuan so that the Losheng Sanatorium could be saved,” Lu said.
That claim was dismissed by DORTS experts who noted that cost-benefit considerations made the idea unfeasible.