Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) yesterday said that he will put forward some options in March to allow the special municipality’s residents to decide whether to retain its controversial bus rapid transit (BRT) system.
“It seems difficult to convert the system into a standard BRT, but if we want an improvement, we will need to collate the opinions of experts and residents,” Lin said in a meeting with members of a municipal government BRT review and improvement panel.
Lin has said that the Greater Taichung system does not meet the standards of a proper BRT, which usually has stations, a ticketing system and a traffic control center.
Taichung’s BRT has only a temporary control center for the single route that is in operation, and even that route is not quite complete, Lin has said.
The BRT was intended to be an integrated system of six lines, but Lin has suspended the construction of the remaining five lines amid controversy over the project.
Soon after yesterday’s meeting, Lin said that, he would present several workable options to Taichung residents in March so they can decide whether to keep the system, convert BRT lanes into dedicated bus lanes or reintegrate them into regular traffic lanes.
The system must be examined by experts to determine whether it can be converted into a standard rapid transit system and to generate improvement plans in a pragmatic and rational manner, he said.
The BRT, which began commercial runs in July last year, was the subject of heated debate among candidates in the nine-in-one local government elections last year.
Some motorists have complained about traffic congestion and difficulty changing lanes, since the BRT line and stations occupy dedicated lanes.
However, amid the complaints, BRT ridership increased from 36,000 passengers per day at the end of August last year to 50,000 in October, according to data from the Taichung Transportation Bureau.
When Taichung launched the BRT, Lin — a legislator at the time — said the system was not yet ready for operation and that then-mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) had rushed it as a tactic to woo voters in his re-election bid.
After Lin took office on Dec. 25 last year, he assembled a task force of experts in construction, electromechanical engineering and transportation to examine the BRT’s problems and advise the government on solutions.
On Saturday, the city government held a civic forum, inviting residents to give their opinions on whether the BRT should be retained. Most of the 100-plus residents who attended voiced support for the system.
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