Taichung MRT won’t launch on time
Bowing deeply and apologizing to the public, Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen announced that the Taichung MRT Green Line will not be launching on the 19th, as originally planned.
She said she would rather take the blame, but Taichung residents’ safety was her number one priority.
In spite of Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS), which is responsible for developing the Taichung MRT system, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries giving a report on their inspection results and problem-solving measures, the mayor pointed out that the reason for the breakdown has yet to be conclusively determined.
The MRT started trial runs Nov. 16, but were halted on Nov. 21 after it was discovered that a coupling connecting one of the two-carriage trains had broken.
DORTS and Kawasaki announced that all the couplings could be replaced in February, but the Taichung Mass Rapid Transit System Company called that timeline “optimistic”, and added “it’s no use hurrying if its not safe.”
The Taichung City Government plans to seek compensation from DORTS, and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je has said they would respect Taichung’s wishes.
DORTS, meanwhile, plans to seek compensation from Kawasaki.
The city government will establish an MRT malfunction review committee made up of experts to help handle the matter objectively and hopefully will find the cause of the problem.
Until that is found, the MRT will be suspended indefinitely.
New elevated railway park opens
Half of an elevated park built on an abandoned section of railway track in Taichung has officially opened.
Based on a concept similar to that of the High Line in New York, the Taichung version opened so far is the southern 700 meter stretch, and eventually the entire 1.6-km walkway will be fully opened by the end of the year.
There will be events and exhibitions running until Dec. 20 held on the part of the greenway from the Taichung Station to Guoguang Rd. called “Taiwan Connection 1908,” to commemorate the launch of the Western Trunk line linking Keelung in the north and Pingtung in the south in 1908.
The NT$650 million project, which was launched in 2015, is part of an overall downtown revitalization plan.
Local govts plan to reward racto-pork snitches
Both Taichung City and Changhua County have announced plans to reward people for turning in suppliers of pork containing ractopamine if they are found on school campuses.
The Taichung version provides 70% of any levied fines as a reward for the snitches, while the Changhua version offers rewards of up to 50%.
Imports of pork containing the leanness-enhancing agent are scheduled to be allowed starting in January.
Meanwhile, a Taichung city councillor, speaking at a press conference held by two parents groups opposed to ractopamine, said that they weren’t ruling out launching a recall campaign against deputy legislative speaker Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) of the DPP and Chen Po-wei (also known as 3Q) of the Taiwan Statebuilding Party over the issue.
Both represent Taichung districts.
Taichung to launch new services platform
The Taichung City Government has announced plans to establish an online platform that would improve residents’ access to city services, which the mayor said would be rivaling, if not surpassing, that offered by “resident cards” in other special municipalities.
The first phase, launching in March, will help residents discover city events, expedite their visits to city offices and assist them in borrowing public library materials.
On the platform, residents can electronically register or apply for government services, pay fees, and even apply to lease a venue for an event.
The second phase, which will include online service payments, is expected to begin by the end of next year.
Taichung’s budget for next year to run small deficit
After cutting NT$600 million, the Taichung city council has passed next year’s budget, with expected expenditure of NT$142.2 billion and income of NT$132.3 billion in income.
The deficit will be just shy of NT$10 billion, marking the lowest amount of debt to be taken on by the city in eight years.
Christmas activities in Taichung
There are several Christmas-themed activities going on in Taichung, which look like fun for the whole family.
Along the Liuchuan Canal, the city is putting on a Christmas Dancing Water and Light Show, which takes place every half hour between 5:30 and 9:30 in the evening, and runs to Dec. 27.
Also along the canal is what the city describes as “a magic Christmas forest which features many divine animals.
The theme lighting decoration is a “Mystical Stag” at the height of 4 meters.”
The main Christmas tree downtown, “the Tree of Praise” is decorated with 9,999 colorful bows.
At the National Taichung Theater there will be a Christmas-themed light show designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito that will be projected on the theater walls from today until Jan. 10 and running for 20 minutes every hour after 1 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday.
They also will have a market, concerts and even a Boxing Day sleepover.
Image courtesy of Lu Shiow-yen’s Facebook