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September 25, 2017

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Ko vows action on Taipei traffic woes

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) confronted criticism over traffic congestion in the capital, saying that he had formed a special task force that would meet to address the issue.

Ko made the announcement during a ceremony that will open the dismantling of Zhongxiao Bridge (忠孝橋) during the Lunar New Year amid criticism of widespread traffic congestion in Taipei. The mayor added that the special task force would be convened daily "to meet daily problems," adding that the municipal government had conceived of short-, medium- and long-term plans for city traffic issues.

He said that primary action would be to increase patrols and traffic police presence on larger intersections and control targeting illegal parking in the city's major arteries.

City Denies Profiting Far Eastern with 'eTag'

Meanwhile, the city's Traffic Engineering Office (TEO, 交通管制工程處) denied that the proposed usage of the eTag system to analyze traffic patterns in the city would be implemented as a means of profiting Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co. (FETC, 遠通電收).

The TEO stated that other companies could be licensed to use the eTag international standard to help the city in its efforts to track traffic flows, bottlenecks by location and time of day. The office intends to set up 211 separate eTag monitoring stations which will encompass the city's 10 expressways as well as bridges connecting it to neighboring New Taipei. The project costs, which are awaiting finalization, could reach NT$10 million (approximately US$300,000) and is scheduled for completion by September.

Ko stated on Sunday that data from the eTag system (in which he says data could be collected from 90 percent of Taiwanese vehicles) could be used to better facilitate traffic flow management.

FETC, which was contracted to provide electronic toll collection (ETC) system in Taiwan was roiled by protests in 2014 due to technical glitches in its equipment among other controversies including privacy of user data.

Confident on Bridge Removal

Ko added he was "confident" that the Zhongxiao Bridge would be successfully dismantled within the eight days allotted for the project starting from Feb. 7 and ending on the Feb. 14. Eight hundred and eighty workers and 100 construction vehicles will be mobilized for the 8-day project, which had an original time frame of more than three months.

Work on the project during the Lunar New Year holiday will take advantage of lower traffic volumes (estimated at one-third of usual traffic) to create the least amount of disruption.

The project to dismantle the 750-meter bridge and its 30 pillars is budgeted at approximately NT$285 million (approximately US$8.54 million). Additional roadwork construction following the demolition of the bridge is expected to be completed before December.

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