The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is appropriating nearly NT$60 million (US$2 million) to subsidize plans by the Taipei City Government and the Kaohsiung City Government to expand their multipurpose taxi fleets, it said over the weekend.
The ministry said that it has since 2013 subsidized the multipurpose taxi service nationwide, as it has become a way for disabled people to travel.
The nation has 980 multipurpose taxis, including 301 in Taipei and 272 in Kaohsiung, ministry statistics showed.
Last year, the service was accessed more than 200,000 times in Taipei and 460,000 times in Kaohsiung, which the ministry said shows that the service has helped facilitate the transportation of physically challenged people.
The city governments of Taipei and Kaohsiung have asked for subsidies to expand their multipurpose taxi fleets due to rising demand for the service, the ministry said.
After reviewing their plans, the ministry agreed to provide a subsidy of NT$19.46 million to Taipei and NT$39.50 million to Kaohsiung, it said.
The subsidies would help the cities purchase a total of 63 vehicles for the service — 20 in Taipei and 43 in Kaohsiung — as well as cover the incentive bonuses for drivers and pay for part of the leasing fees for multiple-card readers, the ministry said.
“We hope that the two city governments can quickly find qualified taxi service operators so that the new vehicles could be added to the fleets before December,” it said.
Multipurpose taxis should be equipped with wheelchair lifts or detachable ramps, with each driver receiving up to NT$400,000 in subsidies to purchase the vehicles, the ministry said.
Multipurpose taxi drivers who serve disabled passengers more than 50 times per month can apply for a bonus of NT$50 per trip, with the maximum bonus being capped at NT$5,000 per month, it said.
To allow passengers to pay taxi fares through multiple payment methods, each driver would also receive a subsidy of NT$500 per month to lease multiple-card readers, the ministry said.
The cities were asked to closely monitor the efficiency of their multipurpose taxi services and improve their quality through customer satisfaction surveys, it added.
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