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Taichung to replace BRT with dedicated bus lanes from July 8

Taichung to replace BRT with dedicated bus lanes from July 8

Taipei, March 23 (CNA) Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (???) announced Monday that the city's existing bus rapid transit (BRT) system will be replaced by "optimized dedicated bus lanes" that will start operation July 8. "The optimized dedicated bus lanes will replace the not-yet-born BRT, while taking the safety and efficiency of motorists, motorcyclists and pedestrians into consideration," Lin said during a city administration meeting. In addition, the new measure will also be able to save as much as NT$28 billion (US$824 million) allocated to complete the system, Lin added, touting the new plan as meeting his administration's promise to improve the city's traffic. The so-called "optimized dedicated bus lanes" program integrates two proposals -- BRT Plus Bus and Pure Bus -- and is aimed at resolving the controversial BRT problems, according to the mayor. Adopting suggestions made by a team of experts contracted by the city government to examine and review the BRT system, Lin said he has decided to turn the existing BRT lanes into "optimized dedicated bus lanes" and to include the common public buses that currently run on Taiwan Boulevard -- the main road running through the core of the city -- on the dedicated bus-only lanes. Under the new program, the existing BRT double-carriage buses will be retained, while 30 percent of the public buses now running on the slow lanes of Taiwan Boulevard will be allowed to travel on the exclusive bus lanes, leaving slower lanes for motorists and motorcyclists. However, at least two public bus lines on Taiwan Boulevard will continue to operate on the slow lanes for passengers using minor stations, according to the Taichung Transportation Bureau. Lin also said that all the buses running on the dedicated bus lanes will be given a unified exterior to facilitate their identification. "Their new livery will become Taichung's new mobile landmark," the mayor said. When the program takes effect July 8, the city will simultaneously extend the free mileage of public bus rides from the current 8 kilometers to 10 km, Lin announced. The BRT, which began last July, was the subject of heated debate among candidates in the November 2014 local government elections. Some motorists have complained about traffic congestion and difficulty changing lanes, since the BRT line and stations occupy dedicated lanes. Amid the complaints, however, ridership on the BRT increased from 36,000 passengers per day at the end of August last year to 50,000 in October, according to Transportation Bureau data. When the city government launched the BRT, Lin, who was a legislator at the time, said the system was not yet ready for operation and that then-Mayor Jason Hu (???) had rushed it through as a tactic to woo voters in his re-election bid. After Lin took office last December, he assembled a task force to examine the BRT's problems and advise the city government on solutions. "The Taichung BRT has never been a real BRT system. It is a BRT not yet born," Lin said at Monday's city administration meeting, explaining that under the existing system, BRT buses do not enjoy exclusive road rights or priority traffic signals. The BRT traffic control center, which he said is poorly equipped, cannot even directly communicate with the buses on the road or the stations, Lin said. In conclusion, he said, it is a failure in terms of both establishment and operation. (By Kuan Jui-pin, Sunrise Huang, Liao Jen-kai and Elizabeth Hsu)

Updated : 2021-11-29 11:57 GMT+08:00