The Taipei City Government should review its taxi fare subsidy program for seniors and the disabled because many taxi companies have failed to be cooperate, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilor said yesterday.
The program, which allows seniors and the disabled a NT$16 subsidy for taxi fares under NT$100 and NT$32 for fares over NT$100 using an EasyCard designed specifically for the program, has cost Taipei City’s Department of Transportation NT$200 million (US$6.7 million) a year since the service was launched in 2009.
However, the program suffered from inadequate participation, DPP Taipei City Councilor Hung Chien-yi (洪健益) said yesterday, challenging the city government over its effectiveness.
According to Hung, only 3.4 percent of the city’s 410,000 elderly and disabled residents used the subsidy over the previous year, and although 2,849 taxis installed the EasyCard machine, 292 withdrew from the program last month because of the low usage rate.
“Many taxi companies now offer discounts to regular passengers of up to 30 percent, and so the subsidy program did not save much for seniors and the disabled,” he said yesterday at the Taipei City Council.
Many taxi drivers also encouraged passengers to pay cash to enjoy the discount in an attempt to avoid the transaction fee involved when using EasyCard, he added.
In response, department chief secretary Chang Hua-jen (常華珍) said seniors and the disabled can also use their EasyCard on other public transportation, including buses and the MRT, and enjoy a variety of discounts.
She acknowledged the low participation rate of the taxi subsidy program and said the department planned to discuss the issue with taxi companies in an effort to work out how best to increase participation.
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