The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said over the weekend that it is aiming to increase the number of the low-floor buses this year as part of its plan to provide an obstacle-free environment for public transportation passengers.
Department of Railways and Highways Director-General Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯) said that many advanced nations have begun to use low-floor buses, which provide elderly and disabled passengers with improved access to bus services.
In Japan, for example, 23 percent of inner-city buses are low-floor buses and the country is planning to increase that number to 30 percent by 2014.
Chen said low-floor buses accounted for 16.07 percent of all inner-city buses in Taiwan, adding that the ministry has set the goal of raising the number to 20 percent this year.
Specifically, Chen said priority would be given to shuttle buses departing from Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp stations.
Through a subsidy from the government, the number of low-floor buses will increase from 12 to 30. The subsidy will help purchase a total of 21 low-floor buses that would be used for passengers departing TRA stations.
Meanwhile, Chen said the ministry would also upgrade facilities at TRA stations because many of the stations were designed and built decades ago and failed to take into consideration the needs of disabled passengers.
Chen added that the ministry’s plan is to install escalators so passengers can smoothly transfer between different platforms in 90 of the TRA’s stations, which service approximately 96 percent of the railway’s total passengers.
The TRA will also try reducing the gap between trains and platforms by raising the height of the platforms this year, he said.
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