MRT situation looks bad
With the hoped for date for restarting public Taichung MRT Green Line trials now passed, news is coming out that the initially planned official December 19 launch date may be in jeopardy as well.
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen now says there is “no timetable” for restarting, and added “we will not resume operations just for the sake of it.
Safety is our first priority.”
The city government has also demanded more comprehensive safety checks, which may further add delays.
Initially, the trials were halted over a broken coupling, of which two connect the two cars of the train.
The train manufacturer, Kawasaki Heavy Industries initially said this had “never happened before.”
Over the past week, Kawasaki and the Department of Rapid Transit Systems of Taipei City Government (DORTS), which oversees the project, inspected the 36 couplings on the MRT system’s 18 trains.
They found six couplings had problems, suggesting this may be a systemic problem, and not a one-off problem as had previously been implied.
If that is the case, it could mean long delays determining the source of the problem and solutions, which will be needed to put through prolonged trials.
It may also mean that to speed up the timeline to launch for a time they may need to limit the system to single-car trains that don’t need couplers.
Cards for 10km free bus trips launched
Taichung has officially launched a new public transport card that is only available to Taiwan nationals and foreign spouses who are Taichung residents or are studying in Taichung.
The card will allow holders to continue to enjoy the city’s 10 kilometer free, maximum NT$10 charge policy after January 1st.
Non-residents and foreign nationals, aside from spouses, are barred from getting the cards, meaning they will be charged at the old rates.
The cards are available at 95 locations around the city, including district government offices, six MRT stations and city hall.
The European Chamber of Commerce has appealed to the city for permanent residents to be allowed to apply for the cards.
Tourist bus trip turns to tragedy
One man died, and twenty people were injured, after a tourist bus crashed on a downhill section of road in the mountains in Nantou County on Monday.
The bus was carrying a group of tourists from Kaohsiung to Nantou’s Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area when it flipped over about 1.5km from its destination on a curved section of the road.
Five were seriously injured and the 15 others were slightly injured.
Tests showed the driver had no alcohol in his system.
The driver was quoted as saying he wasn’t speeding, and said “I applied the brake, but it did nothing, so I swerved to hit the outside curb to reduce the speed.”
However, the operator of the tour bus company that hired the vehicle, rejected the driver’s explanation that brake failure caused the accident while displaying the bus’ maintenance records.
She said she suspected slippery road conditions or driving problems caused the accident.
The incident is still under investigation.
Taichung to double number of English teachers
The Taichung City Education Bureau has said that next year, it will double the number of foreign English teachers in order to improve students’ English abilities.
That Taichung lagged the other major metropolises in the number of foreign teachers had been brought up repeatedly in the city council.
The city currently employs 35 foreign English teachers, but they plan to double the number to 70 for next year.
Parts of Rainbow Village may be in trouble
Taichung’s Rainbow Village is a popular tourist magnet, but a recent inspection of 18 sites in the village exposed that parts of it may be in danger of collapsing.
There are many cracks that are hidden by the colorful paintings that decorate the village, and some have had to be reinforced by H-beams.
Many houses also have eroded foundations, seven out of 18 locations have a slope of greater than 1 in 200.
The Cultural Affairs Bureau plans to allocate funds to ensure the safety of the village.
Good news for Mayor Lu
After languishing in the polls for most of her term, both Mayor Lu and her administration has finally received some good news.
In a “Fortunate Counties and Cities” poll covering six indices, Taichung jumped eight positions to come in at number eight, though that is still fourth in the big metropolises.
Nantou came in at number 14, and Changhua at 16.
In another poll on whether people “appreciate” the leaders of the big six metropolises, Mayor Lu came in fifth, ahead of the Tainan mayor.
Now we know what’s been missing from Christmas
The Youth Entrepreneurship Base at Guangfu New Village in Wufong looked at Christmas, and have determined what it has been missing all this time: monsters!
From November 28th to January 3rd next year they are running a “Monster Xmas Village 2.0-Monster Search and Point Collection” event.
As the city government website put it, “Visitors are invited to look for monsters inside the Guangfu New Village and those who successfully complete the specific tasks will be able to receive lovely monster stickers.”