'Panda shuttles' planned
The Taipei City Government is planning to launch shuttle bus services between some MRT stations and Taipei Zoo later this month to coincide with the planned opening of the zoo's new panda house during the Lunar New Year holidays beginning on Jan. 25. The “panda shuttles” are being arranged to pick up passengers every five to 15 minutes, starting one hour before opening time at the zoo and running until one hour after closing time, an official at the city's Public Transportation Office said. The shuttle buses will operate between the zoo and the following MRT stations — Taipei City Hall, Qizhang, Gongguan and Taipei Main Station — the official said. In addition, some bus lines, including Nos. 236, 282 and 611, will increase the frequency of their service once the panda house opens.
Thailand focus of book fair
The 17th Taipei International Book Exhibition will be held from Feb. 4 to Feb. 9, focusing on Thailand's literature and culture, the show's organizer said yesterday. About 500 publishers from some 40 countries are expected to set up 2,000 booths at the exhibition, to be held at the Taipei International Trade Center, the Taipei International Book Exhibition Foundation said on its Web site, adding that the book fair was expected to draw about 400,000 visitors. The foundation said it would invite Thai publishers and writers to introduce Thai literature, culture and publishing industry to the local audience. The fair will have sections for books, book design, comics, children's books and writing tools. The book fair will also offer a platform for Taiwanese and foreign writers and publishers to discuss copyright and translation rights.
Seniors go to school
A group of more than 400 senior citizens have realized their dream of becoming university students through a program launched by the Ministry of Education as part of its efforts to create more learning opportunities for the nation's elderly. The program provides a five-day, four-night campus experience for the group, most of whom could not afford to study when they were younger, a staff member in charge of the program at the Department of Social Education said. Under the program, the participants enjoy the same privileges as regular university students, such as attending courses, joining clubs and staying in dormitories — all provided free by the local universities in cooperation with the ministry. The official quoted the participants — with the last group “graduating” in the middle of last month — as saying they wished they “could have flunked” so they could have stayed in the program longer.
Elderly get dental subsidy
The government will grant subsidies to at least 6,000 elderly people from low and medium-income families this year to cover their dental treatment costs, the Ministry of the Interior said in a news release on Thursday. The ministry said that 21.5 percent of the nation's senior population — aged 65 or older — had lost all their teeth. “However, the National Health Insurance program does not cover the costs for dentures,” the ministry said. Minister of the Interior Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) said qualified seniors can visit their local government offices and apply for a NT$40,000 subsidy to cover the cost for a full set of dentures, and for a subsidy of between NT$15,000 and NT$35,000 for removable partial dentures.