A southbound Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) commuter train was delayed for about 30 minutes on Sunday morning when a passenger got into a verbal and physical fight with the train conductor for allegedly refusing to wear a mask during the trip.
“We have asked the Railway Police Bureau to investigate the evidence and turn it over to the Keelung City Health Bureau, which would issue a fine to the passenger in accordance with the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治條例),” said Ku Shih-yen (古時彥), director of the TRA’s Taipei transportation division.
“We have also offered the conductor full legal support if she decides to sue the passenger,” Ku added.
According to the TRA, the conductor was inspecting the tickets of passengers aboard commuter train No. 4121 while it was traveling between Baifu (百福) and Cidu (七堵) railway stations in Keelung.
One man had taken off his mask to chew betel nuts, so the conductor asked him to put it back on.
The man refused to comply, verbally abused the conductor, then physically attacked her, the agency said.
The conductor immediately contacted the railway police in Cidu, who arrested the passenger when the train arrived at Baifu Railway Station, the agency said.
All passengers on board were asked to disembark and take the next commuter train, it said, adding that the Baifu Railway Station deputy station master also boarded the train to protect the conductor until the train arrived at Shulin (樹林) Railway Station.
The incident was the first case in which the railway operator refused to carry a passenger for refusing to wear a mask on board, a new disease-prevention policy implemented on Wednesday last week.
Passengers whose temperature exceeds 37.5°C using a forehead thermometer are also not allowed to board, the TRA said.
Statistics from the TRA’s 239 railway stations showed that about 500 passengers arriving daily at stations did not have a face mask on.
About two-thirds of them followed the advice of train station staff to buy a mask at a convenience store or drug store before re-entering the station, while one-third gave up on taking the train to avoid the hassle.
A person who refused to wear a mask when entering the Taichung Railway Station at about 11pm on Sunday was taken away by the Railway Police for yelling at the deputy station master.
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