Tue, Aug 11, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Tough challenge in store for new head of DORTS

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The new commissioner of the Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS), Richard Chen (陳椿亮), faces a scramble for answers to the series of malfunctions on the Muzha-Neihu MRT line following the resignation of his predecessor, Tom Chang (常歧德), on Sunday.

Chao Hsin-ping (趙心屏), a government 貞pokesperson, said the city would establish a task force headed by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to “improve the stability of the entire system.”

Chao yesterday dismissed criticism that Chang’s resignation was irresponsible, saying that on the contrary Chang’s move showcased his commendable attitude because he felt responsible for the lack of public trust in the line.

Chao also denied speculation that Hau’s approval of Chang’s resignation was timed to prevent the incident from wrecking Hau’s political career and that of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who served as Taipei mayor between 1998 and 2006.

“I don’t believe the new commissioner will think he’s inherited an awful mess,” she said.

Chen said yesterday he would need time to determine the cause of the problem.

Although Chen worked on the system before, his experience was in operations.

Chen served as chairman of the Taipei Rapid Transit Corp from 2002 until last month and general manager between 1997 and 2002. Prior to that, he was with the DORTS from 1989 to 1995.

Saying he had no immediate answer as to whether the system would experience more malfunctions in the near future, Chen said his top priority was to identify the problem. Nor could he guarantee that the system would be flawless, he said.

“From a scientific and technical viewpoint, there is no such thing as a guarantee,” he said. “What we can do is look into all aspects, find the problem and come up with the solution,” he said.

Chao, however, blamed the DORTS and the contractor for the problems, saying the city would “use the strictest standards to demand that the contractor” do its job right, as it would be held responsible.

She said the city followed the recommendations made by the DORTS and contractor regarding the completion of the line, its test runs and the operations, but the performance of the line did not meet their expectation and that of the public.

“The MRT system has been operating for 13 years,” she said. “We will not allow the poor performance of the contractor to compromise [the line’s] achievements and reputation.”

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