The metro firms of Taipei and New Taipei City should be integrated, while New Taipei City government representation should be bolstered to help resolve a dispute over rights to operate the Circular Line (Yellow Line), Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.
Lin made the comments after radio talk show host Clara Chou (周玉蔻) asked him about exchanges between Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) over which city should operate the line.
Hou has said that New Taipei City would seek to retake the rights, as most of the line’s route is within its borders, while Ko has said that Taipei Metro should be the main operator, as it was built by the Taipei Department of Rapid Transit Systems.
Ko called on Lin to arbitrate.
The dispute would not be resolved simply by looking at which city constructed the line or paid the most for construction, Lin said.
“Construction and operation of an MRT line can be treated as separate matters,” Lin said. “I think we should consolidate the costs and human resources when it comes to building an MRT line, but managing operations requires the participation of local governments.”
“As the majority of the Circular Line is in New Taipei City, I suggested that the two metro firms be consolidated, with seats on the new company’s board of directors being allocated based on the shares each city holds,” he said.
“If New Taipei City provides the most funds, it can have more seats on the board,” he said, adding that this would ensure that both cities benefit from the line’s operations.
Taipei Metro had held the leading role because Taipei was once the nation’s only city with an MRT system, he said.
However, with more lines being built in New Taipei City, it is entitled to shares and more representation, Lin said, adding that the municipalities can work together to promote MRT ridership by international visitors.
“Both mayors are wise men and have the opportunity to be the leader of the country. They can work out the best business model for the MRT line from the perspectives of spatial planning and regional development,” he said.
Meanwhile, plans to build a high-speed rail extension connecting Kaohsiung and Pingtung County has come under the scrutiny of officials at the National Development Council, Lin said.
The project has the staunchest support from Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who is from Pingtung, Lin said, adding that the Executive Yuan would review the situation.
The ministry finished its feasibility study at the end of last year and it would take about two years to stipulate a comprehensive plan for the project, have the project reviewed by the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee and make changes to urban development plans, he said.
The construction of the extension line could begin as early as 2022 if everything proceeds smoothly, Lin said.
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