Transportation and urban development experts yesterday urged the government to develop the land surrounding the nation’s high-speed rail stations, with a view to national spatial planning.
The comments were made at an international forum hosted by the Institute of Transportation, a research think tank of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The forum focused on the introduction of transit-oriented development (TOD) strategies, through which land surrounding a public transit system could be properly developed to further boost use of the system.
The organizers invited local as well as overseas experts to examine successful TOD models in other countries and contribute their thoughts on the land development issues facing the nation’s public transit systems, particularly the high-speed rail.
Chang Kuei-ling (張桂林), a city planning commissioner in both Taipei and New Taipei City, said the development of the transit-oriented development model in Taiwan seemed to be confined to just one train or bus station or one transport node, which is a relatively smaller development compared with those in other advanced countries.
“We had hoped the 300km high-speed rail will further reduce the difference between urban and rural areas,” Chang said. “In my opinion, only the land development surrounding the high-speed rail station in Hsinchu can be considered a success in this regard. Most of the land near the other high-speed rail stations remain underdeveloped.”
Chang said the nation’s urban development experts and transportation researchers hardly communicate with one another, adding that they are also out of sync with financial experts and industry specialists, while TOD is a public policy integrating different fields of expertise.
Rather than focus on development in one transport node, the nation should in the future focus on studies of transport corridors and take into consideration all related elements, from industries, land and a transit system to financial sustainability, Chan said.
Chang added that transit-oriented development has a great opportunity to emerge at the high-speed rail stations, which can in turn resuscitate many declining small towns around the nation.
Cheng Yung-hsiang (鄭永祥), an associate professor in the Department of Transportation and Communication at National Cheng Kung University, said the high-speed rail system has made it possible to travel around Taiwan within one day.
However, the convenience also motivated more people to migrate to big cities, which explains why property taxes in Taipei keep on rising, he said.
For the TOD model to work in Taiwan, Cheng suggested that the government deliver incentives to encourage more people to commute.
“The government can consider using the Air Pollution Control Fund to subsidize corporations who encourage their employees to commute. The commuters can use the money they save through commuting for a bigger house and potentially a better quality of life. The corporations, on the other hand, can recruit talented individuals from a much broader area, not just from inside the city,” Cheng said.
Academic Huang Tai-sheng (黃台山) said that a higher government authority is required to integrate all the resources in different government agencies for the development of transit-oriented development.
He added that land development around the high-speed rail stations can only succeed with the introduction of industries in the areas.