Fri, May 23, 2014 - Page 3 News List

RAIL RAMPAGE: Four Control Yuan members probe MRT shortcomings

SECURITY CHECK:The four said that with 109 stations and 135 police officers, each officer is responsible for the safety of nearly 10,000 riders

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Four Control Yuan members yesterday launched an investigation to examine the loopholes in the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system’s security and emergency response mechanisms, one day after an unprecedented random knife attack on an MRT train that unnerved the nation.

The four members are Cheng Jen-hung (程仁宏), Yu Teng-fang (余騰芳), Yang Mei-ling (楊美鈴) and Shen Mei-chen (沈美真).

“Although the attack was an unexpected and isolated incident, the information so far has uncovered eight loopholes in the metro rail system’s contingency mechanism which require thorough examination,” Cheng said.

Citing examples, Cheng said Taipei police officers are responsible for maintaining security and disaster prevention at the metro system’s 109 stations, even though about one-third, or 34, are located in New Taipei City.

“The total number of MRT police officers stands at 135. However, if we take into account the average number of officers on a regular day off in one day, we may only have about 40 officers working on each shift,” Cheng said.

That means each police officer is responsible for the safety of nearly 10,000 passengers, which raises questions about whether there are contingency plans in place, Cheng said.

Cheng said the Control Yuan members would also endeavor to find out whether there are surveillance blind spots at MRT stations and carriages, whether train staff are able to react promptly to alarms and whether station employees are trained in emergency rescue techniques.

“We will investigate some victims’ complaints about the delayed response of police and paramedics, and look into Tunghai University’s handling of an anonymous report last month claiming the suspect made ‘unusual remarks’ on Facebook,” Cheng said.

The suspect, who has been identified as a sophomore from the university, allegedly carried out a stabbing spree aboard a MRT Bannan Line train on Wednesday afternoon, killing four and injuring 23.

“We may not be able to prevent an unexpected attack, but we can at least try to minimize the damage,” Cheng said.

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