Student associations at four universities in Taipei and New Taipei City yesterday began the sale of discounted railway tickets targeted at students who plan on returning to their hometowns to vote in the Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections.
The student associations at National Taiwan University, National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) and Fu Jen Catholic University are offering discounted seats on two Taiwan Railways Administration trains, one bound for Taitung County and the other bound for Pingtung County, the National Taiwan University Student Association said.
The trains are to depart from Taipei Main Station at about 6pm on Jan. 10, the association said.
The Taitung train would make stops at the Yilan County, Hualien County and Yuli Township (玉里) stations, while the Pingtung train would stop in Hsinchu, Miaoli County, Taichung, Changhua County, Douliou City (斗六), Chiayi City, Tainan and Kaohsiung, it said.
From now through Tuesday next week, students at the four universities can purchase discounted tickets online, it added.
Students at the universities from low-income backgrounds can sign up to ride for free, and students from low-to-middle-income backgrounds can apply for 50 percent off the already discounted price, it said.
Any remaining seats would be open to the public starting on Thursday next week, it said.
To help subsidize the tickets, the organizers said that they are calling for online donations.
“By going home to decide their own future, young people are not just casting a vote, but can also influence family members or peers,” association president Tu Chun-ching (涂峻清) said.
As part of the initiative, the organizers are also sharing stories about Taiwan’s democracy movement, NTNU Student Association president Chen Liang-chun (陳亮均) said.
“As [the organizers] pay tribute to the forerunners of democracy, [the organizers] also urge young students to protect together Taiwan’s hard-earned democracy and freedom,” he said.
“For students, the relative cost of returning home to vote is even higher” than for others, NTUST Student Association president Tang Yi-hsin (鄧憶欣) said, adding that election day falling on the day after final exams makes it more difficult for students to travel to their registered residence in time to vote.
“If the wish is that different groups have an equal opportunity to express their voices through the mechanisms of democracy, then it is necessary to propose a solution to the extra costs,” she said.
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