MOTC censured over crashes
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) was censured by the Control Yuan on Wednesday over a series of tour bus accidents that occurred over the past three years. The frequent occurrence of accidents was attributable to the ministry’s failure to properly regulate tour bus operators, the Control Yuan said. Among the accidents mentioned was a crash on a mountain road in Hsinchu County on Dec. 9 last year that killed 13 passengers. It was caused by a failure of the bus’ brakes after the engine stalled. Just one day later, another tour bus overturned after hitting a rock wall along the Alishan Highway, leaving 15 people injured. Of the 75 tour bus accidents recorded between 2010 and last year, 72 percent were caused by human error, and in most cases, linked to the drivers, the Control Yuan said.
101 race registration opens
Registration to take part in a run up the nation’s tallest building has opened, with the top male and female finishers set to pocket prize money of NT$200,000 (US$6,649) each, the organizers said. The 2013 Taipei 101 International Run Up Competition, now in its ninth year, will be held on May 5. Registration will close on Sunday. The competition consists of four categories of racers — elite runners, corporate teams, fundraising relay teams and self-challenge individuals. The organizers said that 3,000 entries will be accepted for the individual self-challenge category, an increase from last year’s 2,500. Participants must climb 2,046 steps to the 91st floor of the building. A portion of the registration fees, ranging from NT$500 each for elite and individual runners to NT$20,000 for corporate and relay teams, will be donated to charities in Taipei, the organizers added.
Will Smith to visit
US actor Will Smith is to visit Taipei next month along with his 15-year-old son, Jaden, to promote their new film After Earth, according to Sony Pictures. It will be their first visit to Taiwan. They are making an Asian promotion tour for their new science-fiction thriller, to be released in June. The tour, which is scheduled to start toward the end of this month, will also take Smith and his son to Japan and South Korea, Sony said. During their visit on May 3 and May 4, the Smiths are to meet their fans in Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義) on the evening of May 3, when Taipei 101 is to display the film’s title in lights. The movie, set 1,000 years in the future, stars the two Smiths as father and son Cypher and Kitai Raige.
Direct flights boost arrivals
Visitor arrivals in Hualien have increased significantly since direct charter flights were launched last year between Hualien County and several cities in China, airport authorities said. The number surged from 15,000 in 2011 to 32,000 last year, when charter flights began operating between Hualien and a number of Chinese cities, as well as Ishigaki in Japan, said Lin Kuo-yung (林國勇), head of the airport’s business department. The Chinese cities included Hangzhou, Wuhan, Tianjin and Zhengzhou, and earlier this year, Jinan, Qingdao and Shanghai were added to the list. The airport has projected that visitor arrivals will continue to grow and is planning to open a number of duty-free shops in response to the rapidly increasing numbers. Last year, the county recorded about 3.63 million visitors to its Taroko National Park, with Chinese tourists accounting for 49 percent of the total.