Fri, Apr 24, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Lawmakers criticize NT$180 million 'smart bus' plan

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislators on the Transportation Committee yesterday criticized the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ (MOTC) plan to spend approximately NT$180 million (US$5.3 million) on an “intelligent transportation system” (ITS), with several calling the project a waste of money.

The MOTC’s briefing said that about NT$145 million from the budget would be allocated to installing the signals needed for the ITS, whereas the rest of the budget would be used to build the “Smart Bus” System (聰明公車), which informs bus passengers of the arrival time for buses.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) said yesterday that people living in rural areas sometimes have to wait an hour or two for a bus and that they would not benefit from such a system.

“What they really want is for the bus to arrive on time,” she said. “If the bus system cannot guarantee punctuality, then it’s useless for the government to spend huge sums of money building these electronic billboards.”

DPP Legislator Kuo Wen-chen (郭玟成) said that passengers living in rural areas generally asked family members to pick them up at train stations. Nobody would want to sit and wait for “smart buses,” he said.

“A lot of bus companies are about to go out of business because of the high-speed rail,” Kuo said. “The government should help tour bus operators branch out into shuttle bus operations.”

MOTC Vice Minister Oliver Yu (游芳來) said the smart bus and its systems were created to inform passengers about the arrival and departure time of buses so they would not have wait around at bus stops.

Meanwhile, lawmakers asked Yu to clarify MOTC Minister Mao Chi-kuo’s (毛治國) statement about the construction of mass rapid transit (MRT) systems on Wednesday.

Mao said an MRT system would be disastrous if it did not have enough users.

Yu said the minister was referring to the direction of the MOTC’s policy. He also said that the Taichung MRT system had been approved and would be built, but that the Taichung City Government would be responsible for operations.

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