Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said he would file a lawsuit against the New Taipei City Government if it does not return excess payments Taipei made to subsidize its bus system.
People First Party Taipei City Councilor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) brought the issue to the fore during a city council question-and-answer session on Friday and asked Ko to demand a refund from the newly nominated Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫).
Under a bilateral subsidy program, the two municipalities issue a subsidy toward each other’s bus system every four years, but due to a difference in the average bus fare calculated by the two cities, the Taipei City Government had paid an excess of NT$86.26 million (US$2.62 million) between 2007 and 2010, Huang said.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
The average bus fare calculated by Taipei during this term was NT$15.881 per ride, while that by New Taipei City was NT$15.692, which caused Taipei to pay New Taipei City residents NT$0.189 more for each time they took a bus.
Ko said that his administration has been asking the New Taipei City Government to return the excess since shortly after he assumed office in December last year, to no avail.
The difference in the calculations was a mistake by the Taipei City Government, and New Taipei City’s bus authorities have been reluctant to return the excess payments, Ko said.
He said he has not spoken with Chu personally about the issue, and probably would not have a chance to do so.
“I do not know how to reach him these days,” Ko said, referring to Chu’s presidential bid, for which he is to be on leave until the Jan. 16 elections are over.
On what he plans to do if the New Taipei City government refuses to return the money, Ko said: “We will be left with no choice but to file a lawsuit.”
Taipei Public Transportation Office division chief Huang Hsin-hao (黃信豪) said that except between 2007 and 2010, the two cities have always agreed on a single bus fare, although Taipei, with its larger number of commuters, would have to pay more subsidies.
However, that has nothing to do with the NT$86.26 million Taipei is owed, he said.
Taipei Public Transportation Office director Chen Jung-ming (陳榮明) said the two municipalities had been unable to reach an agreement on the issue.
He said his agency has asked the New Taipei City Government to propose an acceptable method of payment and a timeframe to clear the debt by the end of next month.
Additional reporting by Kuo Yi
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