Adjusting the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) ticket pricing scheme is not the government’s top reform priority, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said yesterday.
Wang made reforming the nation’s oldest and largest railway agency his No. 1 policy goal when he assumed the position on Tuesday last week, after the Taroko Express No. 408 derailment in Hualien on April 2 killed 49 passengers and injured 244.
Many have proposed salvaging the debt-ridden TRA by raising fares, which have not been adjusted for 26 years.
The railway agency has an accumulated financial loss of about NT$400 billion (US$14.31 billion) — of which NT$140 billion is loans and NT$60 billion is pension fund payments, Wang told reporters during a visit to Keelung’s Heping Island.
The government is to give the agency a yearly subsidy of NT$4.8 billion for pension fund payments, which would gradually reduce its pension fund debt, Wang said.
“The agency is also to be compensated NT$1.1 billion annually for the financial losses it has accumulated over the years as it maintained railway stations in remote areas and along less-profitable routes,” Wang said.
However, it is impossible for the government to pay off the agency’s debts in one fiscal year, he added.
“The subsidies we are proposing are designed to prevent the TRA’s financial situation from deteriorating. We also hope that the agency would be able to balance its budget through a more creative use of its properties and assets,” Wang said.
“The first and foremost task is to enhance the safety of the TRA system. At this stage, raising train fares is unreasonable,” he said.
Wang said that he would focus on increasing the agency’s revenue through asset development before considering raising train fares.
Tainan City Councilor Lu Kun-fu (盧崑福) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday sparked further controversy when he echoed remarks by KMT caucus whip Alex Fai (費鴻泰) that Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) should be executed for an increase in domestic COVID-19 cases. Chen heads the Central Epidemic Command Center. Lu at a question-and-answer session at the Tainan City Council said that a lapse in disease prevention measures at China Airlines, which has led to a cluster infection, could have been controlled. However, as the airline’s pilots were allowed a shortened quarantine period of three days and were placed
The Taipei City Government yesterday officially launched the “YouBike 2.0” system, an upgraded version of the bicycle rental service, saying that it aims to expand the service to more than 1,200 stations throughout the city. The system yesterday activated 160 new stations, in addition to 103 stations in the Gongguan (公館) shopping area near the National Taiwan University campus. A trial run of YouBike2.0 was launched there in January last year. The Taipei Department of Transportation said that bicycles of the upgraded system feature solar panels and card censors, which allow users to rent them by swiping their EasyCard or scanning a QR
‘COLD ATTITUDE’: The man claimed that his wife of nearly 50 years had not cooked or done any laundry for 40 years and that she refused to bathe A court last month rejected a man’s application for a divorce over lack of evidence that his wife “would rather feed stray dogs” than her husband. The 90-year-old man, surnamed Chao (趙), filed for divorce from his wife of nearly 50 years, surnamed Tung (董), saying that she had not cooked or done any laundry for 40 years. “Every morning my wife goes to Gaoping Bridge to feed stray dogs and does not come home until late,” Chao said. “I am 90 and I need to be taken care of,” he said, complaining of his wife’s “cold attitude” toward him. Chao also complained in
DATA-DRIVEN: The dedicated department used big data to find sexual harassment hot spots on the Mass Rapid Transit system to take measures against perpetrators Most incidents of sexual harassment and secret photography in Taipei’s MRT metropolitan railway system over the past five years occurred at three stations, the Rapid Transit Division of the Taipei City Police Department said in a statement yesterday. Most incidents were recorded at Zhongxiao-Fuxing MRT Station, followed by Taipei Main and Zhongxiao-Dunhua MRT stations, the department said, adding that the results were obtained through big data analysis. The system, which serves Taipei and New Taipei City, handles about 2.2 million passengers per day, and most cases of secret photography and sexual harassment — usually involving touching a victims buttocks or chest