Taiwan’s Kaohsiung fights pollution with 3 months of free public transport

Free transport for buses, long-range buses and light rail, only during peak hours for MRT

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Kaohsiung to fight air pollution with 3 months of free public transport. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In an effort to combat air pollution, Kaohsiung announced Tuesday it was making its public transport at least partly free for passengers in December, January and February.

Each winter, the weather and the city’s geological position prevented polluted air from escaping the area, harming air quality in the area, Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) said Tuesday.

If only motorists and motorcycle users would leave their vehicles at home and make their journey to work and back on public transport, the situation should improve, the mayor said.

The free travel program will start on December 1 and will be valid for passengers using electronic cards on city buses, long-distance buses and light-railway trains. On the city’s Mass Rapid Transit system, only journeys during peak hours between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on weekdays will be free for card users, according to the Central News Agency.

The program will cover three months because those are usually the worst for pollution, officials said.

The city government was expecting a surge in the number of city bus passengers during the period to 1.76 million, long-distance bus passengers to 70,000 and MRT travelers to 1.6 million, while the measure would cut carbon emissions by 16,000 tons, CNA reported.

The city is expecting to fund the free rides with NT$200 million (US$6.6 million) from an air pollution fund.