The Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit Bureau late on Sunday announced that it has no plans to further postpone the completion of a circular light rail line, seemingly contradicting an official statement released hours earlier.
Bureau Deputy Director Wu Jia-chang (吳嘉昌) earlier that day said that the bureau is evaluating a proposal to push back the completion date for the second phase of the city’s light rail system from June next year to 2024 due to opposition from residents.
However, bureau Director Wu Yei-long (吳義隆) said in a later statement that the city “currently has no plans” to postpone the completion of the project.
Wu Yei-long added that after taking office in August, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) instructed his administration to resume construction as soon as possible, while doing everything possible to address issues raised by those opposed to the project.
Chen yesterday said that he was not aware how the postponement statement came about, adding that he hopes the project will resume as soon as measures are taken to address existing issues.
Construction of the second phase of the rail line began in 2016, after the completion in 2015 of an 8.7km section that runs past the port and southeast of the city center.
The 13.4km section in the second phase was to be finished at the end of last year, to serve the northern and eastern areas of the city, but parts of the project were suspended in 2018 when some residents protested, pushing the completion date to June next year.
In a series of public discussions and hearings hosted by the city government, residents said they were concerned about the route of the light rail along narrow streets, which they said would cause traffic congestion and the trams would create noise in residential areas.
Work on the northern part of the second-phase line remains suspended, and on Oct. 8 Chen told the city council that the city government was conducting an assessment to address residents’ concerns.
On the sections that are still under construction, work has been accelerated, with nine additional stops expected to be completed by next year, the bureau said.
If those sections pass inspection, the total number of stops on the line would increase from 14 to 23, extending the current section northward, it said.
The light rail line, the first of its kind in Taiwan, has become a tourist attraction, with total ridership of 11.72 million since its opening in 2015, the bureau said, citing figures from the end of August.
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