Thu, Dec 25, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Exclusive bus lanes to go: Ko

POLITICAL DECISION:The Taipei Mayor-elect said that the call to demolish the bus lanes, to improve traffic flow, was based on professional assessments

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

A taxi drives along an out-of-service bus lane on Zhongxiao W Road near Taipei Railway Station yesterday. Mayor-elect Ko Wen-je yesterday announced his decision to demolish the exclusive bus lanes.

Photo: CNA

Taipei Mayor-elect Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday announced he has decided to demolish the exclusive bus lanes in front of Taipei Railway Station, adding that the decision was made based on professional assessments.

“During a meeting that started at 8am this morning, I have decided that the exclusive bus lanes are to be demolished, because, according to a traffic improvement project, the bus lanes would be altered along with demolition of the elevated highway around the city’s North Gate in 2016,” Ko said. “I therefore decided that, if we are to demolish the bus lanes, why don’t we do it now?”

The exclusive bus lane project was completed in 2006 when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was Taipei mayor, but was never put into use due to concerns that it would only make traffic problems worse in front of the railway station.

Although outgoing Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) once said that he would demolish them, he later resolved to keep them.

During the mayoral campaign, Ko also vowed to demolish the bus lanes as his first point of call when taking office, however, after meeting with Hau earlier this month, Ko retracted his promise, saying that he had to look further into the costs and effects of demolishing the bus lanes.

A day before his inauguration, Ko finally decided to demolish the bus lanes.

He explained that, according to a project to improve traffic in the area, which is often jammed, an elevated highway on the west side around the city’s historic North Gate would be torn down. He added that roads around Taipei Railroad Station would also be redesigned, and therefore, it would be better to demolish the bus lanes sooner rather than later.

“I’ve asked Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮) to preside over the demolition plan, since he is a professional in urban design,” Ko said, adding that it is a political decision based on professional assessments.

Incoming department of Transportation director Chung Hui-yu (鍾慧諭), Ko’s designated transportation department director, said she originally preferred to have the bus lanes reconstructed altogether during the traffic redesign project, however, she compromised during the meeting.

Chung estimated the demolition would cost between NT$3 million and NT$4 million (US$94,357 and US$125,810).

Upon learning of Ko’s decision, Hau said in a separate setting that he proposed to demolish the bus lanes three times during his eight-year term as mayor, but ended up being convinced by the traffic department to keep them.

“However, I would fully respect the new mayor’s decision,” he said.

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