Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Taichung’s BRT fails to impress: poll

CON BUS:Praised by Ma as better than the MRT, the bus system was deemed a ‘fake’ by an academic over its partial transfer tables, while a poll showed low user satisfaction

By Chang Ya-ching  /  Staff reporter

Of the mere 5.3 percent of Greater Taichung residents polled who reported having ridden the municipality’s newly launched Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, only 16.9 percent said they were satisfied with the transport service, the results of a survey conducted by the Greater Taichung Development Association and released yesterday showed.

Participants in the opinion poll conducted from Tuesday to Thursday last week gave Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) a grade of 48.1 points for his launch of the BRT system, the association said.

Of the Greater Taichung residents surveyed, only 5.3 percent said they have used the new bus service and of these, 16.9 percent reported being satisfied with the service and 25.5 percent said they would now change the way they travel, the results showed.

A majority of those polled — 66.2 percent — said they do not think the BRT will solve the city’s traffic problem, but 50.6 percent said they think Greater Taichung still needs the blue line BRT system, while 68.6 percent support constructing an MRT network in the municipality.

When asked about the policy of eliminating bus fares for commutes of up to 8km, 55.2 percent of residents polled said they have used the free ride service, with 33.4 percent saying the program had altered how they commute in the city.

The data showed that 59.5 percent of respondents would be more willing to use the bus system if the frequency of buses is increased.

On July 26, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took a 3.5km ride on the BRT route along Taiwan Boulevard on the eve of the opening of the system’s year-long free service, after which he lauded Hu for establishing the bus network, deeming it as good as a subway system.

Commenting on the survey, the Democratic Progressive Party’s Greater Taichung mayoral candidate Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said he is not opposed to the BRT, but that Hu had inaugurated an incomplete system by rushing the launch to boost his approval ratings ahead of the Nov. 29 elections.

Lin said that if elected, he will set up a special panel to improve the BRT system, while also pushing for the creation of an MRT network, reviewing the 8km free bus ride policy to extend it to those living in more remote areas of the city, as well as bidding to increase the number of routes and frequency of buses.

“Greater Taichung’s BRT is not a real BRT in that it fails to provide passengers full transfer information and lacks careful planning, which has consequently seen the service stigmatized among the public,” said Wang Yi-chuan (王義川), chair of the Department of Transportation and Logistics at Toko University.

Public Transportation Association president Lee Wen-chieh (李文傑) said the Greater Taichung Government inaugurated the BRT with an incomplete transfer information mechanism after the project’s construction was repeatedly postponed, adding that this hastiness had made the BRT a complete joke.

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