Operations of the “mid-ring” line on a planned Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) ring line through Taipei and New Taipei City are bound to cause losses, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) told a news conference yesterday, urging the New Taipei City Government to specify how much of a subsidy it plans to pay to offset the losses.
Asked to respond to the New Taipei City Government’s request that he propose a solution to the losses expected when three intercity MRT rail lines become operational so that a budget can be requested from funds allocated by the Cabinet’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Construction Project, Ko said overestimating a rail line’s earnings is a common problem.
The central government would not allow a rail line to be built if the line cannot pay for itself, Ko said.
While margins of error are inevitable, local governments have consistently overestimated the self-liquidity of rail lines to pass central government reviews, he said.
This has led to ridership and profit estimates being fudged to such an extent that the actual profits after the lines become operational are about 50 percent of forecasts, he said.
Profits from land development along rail lines are also overly opimistic, as local governments cannot forcibly conduct development, which is another reason for the deficits plaguing MRT lines, Ko said.
“Except for the first five MRT lines, how many lines have managed to make ends meet? How much cash flow is the Taoyuan International Airport MRT line generating?” Ko said.
Asked if his relations with New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) have become so strained that he has not been able to hold discussions with Chu, Ko said no.
However, the New Taipei City Government should adopt a forthright attitude on the matter and acknowledge the problem before discussions can be initiated between the municipalities’ transportation agencies, he added.
Although both his and Chu’s terms would be over by the time the mid-ring line is opened, they should be able to have the foresight to have their transportation officials negotiate how much each city will pay to keep the line afloat, Ko said.
With the nation’s population continuing to shrink, the hourly ridership of the proposed ring line is unlikely to reach 1,200, meaning it would be unnecessary to build it, as roads are readily available and serve their purpose well, Ko said.
Although on Facebook he criticized Keelung’s effort to win central government funds to build a light rail system, Ko said he was not against the proposal.
“Building rail lines is, sometimes, a Taiwanese myth,” the mayor said.
Keeling should not focus all its attention on a light rail system, but consider how it could be integrated with other intercity transportation infrastructure, such as the Shijhih-Minsheng MRT line and the Nangang extension line, he told reporters.
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed
The Fancy Frontier manga and anime expo held in Taipei over the weekend has sparked controversy, after a participant allegedly contravened the Act on Offenses Against Sexual Morality (妨害風化罪) by publicly exposing her private parts during a photo shoot. The two-day event opened at the Expo Dome at the Taipei Expo Park on Saturday, attracting numerous comic and anime creators, cosplayers, photographers and fans. Allegedly, a female cosplayer who was not wearing any underwear lifted up her skirt and revealed her private parts at an outdoor photography area near the venue. Event organizers said yesterday that to prevent indecent exposure, they have since
YOUNGEST PATIENT: Cases of botulism have been only sporadically reported over the past few years, with two in 2015, six in 2016 and none in the past three years The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of infant botulism this year, a four-month-old boy in northern Taiwan, as well as five new cases of Japanese encephalitis confirmed last week. The boy was introduced to homemade solid food in the middle of last month, but began to experience constipation and loss of appetite on June 23, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said, adding that he was taken to the hospital when he developed a fever and shortness of breath on June 25. In the hospital, the boy also experienced a rapid heartbeat, limb
The National Taiwan Museum’s Railway Department Park in Taipei is to open to the public today. The park in Datong District (大同) near the North Gate (北門, Beimen) is one of the museum’s four branches. During the Japanese colonial era, the site housed the railway department of the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan’s Bureau of Transportation. After World War II, it served as the headquarters for the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) for several decades. In 2007, it was listed as a national monument under the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法). At an opening ceremony yesterday, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung