Record numbers use MRT
About 1.74 million people used the Taipei MRT on average each day last year, setting a record high in the rapid transit system’s 18-year history, according to the latest ridership statistics. The daily number — a quarter of the total population of Taipei and neighboring New Taipei City — represents a ridership increase of 5.7 percent from 2012, thanks in part to the opening of the new east-west Xinyi (red) line in November, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said. The MRT began operations in March 1996 with the opening of the Wenshan, or Muzha, (brown) line. Currently, the system operates seven lines stretching across the greater Taipei area. Government statistics indicate that average daily ridership on all rail transport nationwide rose 5.4 percent last year to 2.659 million passengers.
Blood stock dangerously low
The Taipei Blood Bank called for blood donation as it said on Friday that it had less than 5 days worth of blood in storage, primarily in shortage of Type-O blood. The center said it saw a 30 percent decrease in blood donors after the Lunar New Year holidays. Donation division head Huang Ku-ying (黃谷鶯) said a “safe” amount of reserves was typically between seven to 12 days, Huang said, adding that as Type-O blood held the majority, it was also the type that was running low. However, Huang said people with colds should not donate, and people should assess their physical condition before going to donate blood. Call (02) 2897-1600 or visit www.tp.blood.org.tw for more information.
Library system donated
Taiwan on Friday donated an automated library system to the Mapua Institute of Technology in the Philippines, saying it hopes to step up exchanges with the neighboring country. At the handover ceremony at the institute in Manila, Taiwan’s Deputy Representative to the Philippines Chang Tai-lai (張泰來) said the system uses high-tech equipment to trace book loans and returns and conduct inventory. The system is designed to reduce the workload of librarians and the time spent checking books in and out. Reynaldo Vea, president of the Mapua Institute of Technology, thanked Taiwan for the donation and said he hopes that with the assistance of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, his institute will be able to engage more with higher learning institutions in Taiwan.
Ecuador still on gray alert
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained its gray travel advisory to Ecuador after the country’s Tungurahua volcano erupted at least three times over the previous weekend. One of the most active volcanoes in Ecuador, Tungurahua is about 140km south of the capital, Quito. The volcano erupted three times on Feb. 1, spewing ash about 8km into the air that spread over the five neighboring provinces of Azuay, Bolivar, Tungurahua, Chimborazo and Canar. The ministry said that because the volcanic eruptions did not affect Quito or Quayaquil, the largest city, it decided to maintain a gray travel alert for the country. However it advised Tungurahua and Chimborazo should be avoided. The ministry has a four-color travel alert system, with red the highest level of alert, followed by orange, yellow and gray. Gray is a reminder to tourists to pay extra attention to safety issues.