The Freeway Bureau’s smartphone app, “Freeway 1968 (高速公路1968),” might continue to be used during holidays to warn people of crowds at tourist attractions if the public deems it helpful for stopping the spread of COVID-19, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.
The app, developed in-house to monitor freeway traffic and help drivers avoid congestion, was upgraded and used for the first time during last week’s International Workers’ Day holiday to monitor crowds at travel destinations.
The upgraded app was intended to help curb the outbreak, but some local officials said that it did not always accurately reflect the size of crowds at travel destinations, which might turn away potential visitors.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hung Mong-kai (洪孟楷) said yesterday at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee in Taipei that the ministry significantly improved the app’s functions, despite a chaotic launch.
Asked by Hung if the crowd alert function would still be used after the pandemic, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Huang Yu-lin (黃玉霖) said that the function was added on the instructions of the Central Epidemic Command Center and that it would not be available after the disease stops being a threat.
However, if the public considers it an essential function, the ministry would consider keeping it, he added.
Yesterday morning, the ministry meeting discussed a proposal by the Tourism Bureau that 72 tourist hotspots be removed from the list of destinations monitored by the app, after it received requests from local government officials.
The bureau has proposed that 31 additional tourist spots be monitored by the app, including Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area and Raohe Night Market (饒河夜市), as well as Qingshui Geothermal Park in Yilan County’s Datong Township (大同).
At the meeting, representatives from the Miaoli, Kinmen, Lienchiang and Penghu county governments did not comment on the list of the travel destinations currently monitored by the app.
The Tainan City Government, which had previously complained about the number of city hotspots being monitored, said that all of the Tainan tourist attractions should be removed from the list, while the Kaohsiung City Government said that it would turn in a list of local attractions to be monitored after holding a meeting later yesterday.
“Many local government officials think that they should not let their guard down regarding disease prevention. So, we will deliberate over which tourist attractions should be monitored, but we will consult professionals and not accept all of the proposals. The guiding principle is to develop tourism while preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said, who presided over the meeting.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: A US Air Force KC-135 tanker came less than 1,000 feet of an EVA plane and was warned off by a Taipei air traffic controller, a report said A US aerial refueling aircraft came very close to an EVA Airways jet in the airspace over southern Taiwan, a military aviation news Web site said. A report published by Alert 5 on Tuesday said that automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast (ADS-B) data captured by planfinder.net on Wednesday last week showed a US Air Force KC-135 tanker “coming less than 1,000 feet [305m] vertically with EVA Air flight BR225 as both aircraft crossed path south of Taiwan” that morning. The report included an audio recording of a female controller from the Taipei air traffic control center telling the unidentified aircraft that it was
A series of discussions on the legacy of martial law and authoritarianism are to be held at the Taipei International Book Exhibition this month, featuring findings and analysis by the Transitional Justice Commission. The commission and publisher Book Republic organized the series, entitled “Escaping the Nation’s Labyrinth of Memory: What Authoritarian Symbols and Records Can Tell Us,” to help people navigate narratives through textual analysis and comparisons with other nations. The four-day series is to begin on Thursday next week with a discussion between commission Chairwoman Yang Tsui (楊翠), Polish-language translator Lin Wei-yun (林蔚昀), and Polish author and artist Pawel Gorecki comparing
MOVING OUT: A former professor said that rent and early education costs in Taipei are the nation’s highest, which makes it difficult for young people to start families The population of Taipei last year fell to the lowest in 23 years due to high rent, more transportation options and the expansion of northern cities into a single metropolis, academics and city officials said on Monday. Data released this month by the Ministry of the Interior showed that the capital was home to 2,602,418 people last year, down 42,623 from 2019. The decline is second only to 1993, when the population fell by 42,828 people, while Taipei’s population was the lowest it has been since 1997. Taipei saw the biggest drop among the six special municipalities, while Taoyuan led the group in
A legislator yesterday called for authorities to investigate the sale of Chinese-made, Internet-connected karaoke machines containing “propaganda songs.” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said she was approached by a person who had discovered Chinese patriotic songs such as My Motherland (我的祖國) — which is commonly referred to as China’s “second national anthem” — in Chinese-made karaoke devices sold in Taiwan. The machines are popular, as they can connect to the Internet, providing access to thousands of songs, she said. One retailer, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the machines first entered the local market about three years ago, starting with