Transportation Committee: New train station exit policy ‘too harsh’: minister

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Dec 07, 2017 - Page 3

The Taiwan Railways Administration’s new policy requiring passengers to exit platforms and other areas behind ticket gates within 10 minutes of their train’s arrival at stations is “a bit too harsh,” Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) yesterday said, adding that the agency should show leniency in extenuating circumstances.

Hochen made the remarks at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee after facing criticism from lawmakers over the policy.

The policy, which is to take effect on Jan. 1, would require train passengers to pay NT$15 if they fail to leave stations within 10 minutes of arriving unless they have a legitimate reason for failing to do so. It is to apply to holders of electronic and physical tickets.

The administration earlier this week said the policy aimed to encourage passengers to quickly leave after arriving at a station to make room for departing passengers during peak hours, which would help maintain order and safety at stations.

The policy would reduce disputes with passengers when multiple trains arrive at a station at or about the same time, it said.

For example, a commuter train passenger might be asked to pay the fare for a Tzuchiang express train if both trains stop at the station at the same time and they linger on the platform for too long, it added.

The policy would also reduce the number of people who either do not pay for tickets or pay less than the normal fare, the administration said, citing express train passengers who get off a station early and wait for a commuter train to arrive so they can pay the lesser price.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said that the policy, when enforced, would be stricter than those of the Taipei mass rapid transit system and the high-speed rail system.

However, in some stations it takes time to walk to the exit, particularly for older and physically challenged people, as well as parents with children and passengers carrying heavy luggage, he said.

Asking such people to leave a station within 10 minutes of arrival during peak hours might be a problem, he added.

New Power Party Legislator Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸) said that passengers sometimes have to line up to exit stations during peak hours, adding that the railway would have trouble enforcing the new policy on weekends or holidays.

The railway operator should study the possibility of revising the policy, she said.

Hochen said that the time frame set by railway seemed too strict, adding that it should consider giving passengers some leniency under certain circumstances.

Passengers would also be given a grace period before the policy is officially enforced, Hochen said, adding that the railway would enhance communication with passengers during that period.