People should not be concerned about taking public transportation during the Lunar New Year holiday, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday, as railway and bus operators have enforced disease prevention measures in accordance with the guidelines stipulated by the Central Epidemic Command Center.
Today, railway and bus operators are to enforce stricter disease prevention measures due to a COVID-19 cluster infection at Taoyuan General Hospital.
In addition to a ban on eating and drinking on trains, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) has also limited the sale of non-reserved seats on intercity trains to 120 per train.
Photo: Ou Su-mei, Taipei Times
However, some questioned the railway agency’s ability to effectively control the number of standing passengers, as the policy does not apply to passengers boarding trains with electronic payment cards, such as EasyCards.
Some train conductors said that it would be almost impossible to control the number of standing passengers under the circumstances.
While inspecting a new access road to the Tanzih Interchange on Freeway No. 4, Lin was asked if he was concerned that the use of electronic payment methods could become a loophole in the nation’s disease prevention efforts.
“The TRA has many train services, including long-haul and short-haul services. The number [of non-reserved tickets] was set as the basis for the agency’s policy. However, the number of standing passengers tends to fluctuate as they embark and disembark ... so we also need to have some flexibility in implementing the policy,” Lin said, adding that the use of electronic payment methods is not likely to become a loophole.
All passengers would be required to wear masks and have their temperatures taken when accessing railway stations, he said, adding that the agency would remind passengers to observe social-distancing guidelines and increase the frequency at which train cars and train station facilities are disinfected.
In other news, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) plan to allow people to access the airports using facial recognition.
A facial recognition system is already in use to identify passengers at the electronic gates set up by the National Immigration Agency in both airports.
People would still need to have their passports and boarding passes checked by airport police and airline ground crew before entering the restricted area for passengers and at boarding gates.
The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated the management at both airports to expedite the process of implementing the system to limit contact between people.
Taoyuan International Airport Corp said that it plans to install the system at the check-in area, the entrance to the restricted area and at boarding gates in Taoyuan airport.
A trial operation would begin at the second half of this year, the company said, adding that details of its execution are to be finalized at the beginning of this month.
Passengers would only have their faces and passports scanned by the system once at the check-in area, and the information would be sent to the restricted area and boarding gates to help identify the them there, the company said.
Data collected by the facial recognition system would be deleted as soon as the passengers board flights to protect their privacy, it said.
During the trial, passengers can choose to have their identification verified by airport police and airline ground crew or the facial recognized system, the company added.
In Songshan airport, the system would be installed at boarding gates and at the entrance to the restricted area, with the trial operation scheduled to begin after the Lunar New Year holiday.
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