Tue, Mar 17, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Taichung railway ticket flap follows Lantern Festival

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Electronic ticketing systems are to return to the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) stations in Taichung as early as June, section head Chen Yu-mou (陳裕謀) said yesterday in response to complaints over the service being suspended after the Taiwan Lantern Festival ended on Sunday.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) yesterday criticized the TRA for removing the system as soon as the 11-day festival in Taichung concluded.

“It has not only inconvenienced the public, but also discriminates against people in Taichung, because the service has been available in Taipei and Kaohsiung,” Lu told a news conference in Taipei.

Chen said that the agency had temporarily installed the systems to accommodate the significant increase in riders during the festival, and a permanent system would be available in June.

The Tourism Bureau on Sunday said this year’s festival drew more than 13 million visitors.

It said next year’s Taiwan Lantern Festival is to be held in Taoyuan, with exhibition zones in the plaza in front of the high-speed rail station, in Chintang Park and at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium.

The bureau said three localities vied to host next year’s festival: Taoyuan, Pingtung County and Hualien County.

Taoyuan was chosen because of its thorough proposal and endorsement from KMT Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) and others.

The committee reviewing the qualifications of the candidates valued Taoyuan City Government’s experience in hosting the lantern festivals themselves, the bureau said.

The team also has budget and fundraising advantages, it said.

Taoyuan is also at the center of northern Taiwan, and about 10 million potential attendees can reach the event within an hour’s drive of where they live, the bureau said, adding that the location would enable travel agencies to make the festival part of tour packages for international tourists as well.

The bureau cited the venue’s proximity to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, national freeways and the high-speed rail station — as well as the soon-to-be-launched Airport Rail — which would provide easy access to the festival for both domestic and international visitors.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan

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