Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC) will establish battery-charging zones at MRT stations for mobile phone users, which it plans to offer as a free service to passengers beginning next month.
TRTC general manager Tan Gwa-guang (譚國光) said the company would set up charging equipment around the stations’ wireless Internet zones to offer the free service to mobile phone users. It said the sockets would first be set up at major MRT stations, such as Zhongxiao Fuxing, Taipei Main Station and Taipei City Hall.
The TRTC decided to offer the service following a recent incident in which a man was charged with grand larceny for using electricity to charge his cellphone without permission at Danshui MRT Station in December last year.
A police officer on patrol discovered the man, surnamed Wang (王), while he was charging his phone, and arrested him.
The case sparked disputes on whether using electricity inside stations should be considered larceny.
The TRTC originally said it would try to dissuade passengers from using electricity inside MRT stations before calling for the police.
The prosecutor in Wang’s case said the penal code covering grand larceny offenses was applicable because it states a person caught committing larceny “at a station or wharf, airport or within another vehicle, vessel or aircraft for public transport on water, on land or in the air” shall be sentenced to imprisonment for no fewer than six months, but no more than five years, and will be fined an amount not exceeding NT$100,000.
Amid discussions of Wang’s case, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) instructed the TRTC to offer free battery-charging services to passengers under the condition that they do not affect MRT operations and public safety.
Tan said the TRTC currently offers free telephone cards for passengers to use in times of emergency and there are sockets inside MRT stations for electronic wheelchairs.
The TRTC does not intend to limit the time for the battery-charging service, but will advise passengers to only use the service in the case of an emergency.