Lawmakers discuss rapid transport act

EMERGENCY POWER::One of the proposed amendments would allow elderly or disabled passengers to charge the batteries of their electricity-powered vehicles in MRT stations

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 - Page 4

People recharging their mobile phones in MRT stations during emergency situations will not be fined, after lawmakers on the Transportation Committee gave their preliminary approval to an amendment to the Mass Rapid Transit Act (大眾捷運法) yesterday.

Last year, a person recharging his mobile phone at the Tamsui MRT station was prosecuted on a criminal charge for stealing electricity in the public transport system.

The amendment was proposed by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) and several other lawmakers.

The amendment would allow MRT stations to provide free electricity charging stations for use in case of an emergency.

Lee said that passengers should be allowed to access the facility because an increasing number of people use mobile phones, tablet computers and other electronic devices to communicate, adding that some senior or handicapped passengers would sometimes need to charge their electricity-powered vehicles.

Meanwhile, other amendments to the act passed by the committee included enabling the act to regulate the operation of light rail systems.

Both New Taipei City (新北市) and Greater Kaohsiung have plans to build a light rail system.

Lee said that prior to the proposed amendments, the systems had to be built on roads on which they had exclusive right of way.

The amendment would allow light rail systems to share the right of way with other motor vehicles under certain circumstances.

During the review of the proposed amendment, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said that certain restrictions must be set on use of the road by light rail systems and other motor vehicles because they could hinder each other.

Lawmakers agreed that only one-quarter of light rail routes may be built on a road on which the system must share the right of way with other motor vehicles.