Crowded Taipei Main Station lobby floor triggers controversy again

Whether or not to let people gather on lobby floor has become bone of contention

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Crowded Taipei Main Station lobby floor (TRA photo)

Crowded Taipei Main Station lobby floor (TRA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The sight of a crowded Taipei Main Station lobby has again raised eyebrows and revived the debate over whether to allow people to sit on the sprawling checkered floor of the transportation hub.

The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) on Sunday (Sept. 20) posted photos of staff and volunteers asking people gathered in the lobby to follow social distancing rules to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.

The move was in response to complaints about the venue becoming a “picnic venue,” which some worry could hamper efforts to curb COVID-19, wrote CNA. Police officers and foreign language volunteers will continue to communicate with visitors in the lobby, most of whom are migrant workers, to improve crowd control, said the TRA.

The nexus of Taiwan High Speed Rail, Taiwan Railways, Taipei Metro, and Taoyuan Airport MRT, Taipei Main Station serves as a transit hub for the capital and a popular meeting place for commuters and foreign workers.


Taipei Main Station lobby (TRA photo)

The authorities introduced a moratorium on gatherings in the lobby in February amid the height of the virus outbreak in the country and mulled a permanent ban in May. The proposal was met with fierce opposition and a protest, leading the authorities to backtrack and revoke the ban.

The floor underwent a facelift in July, and it now features smiley emojis and the word “smile” in various languages to spotlight acceptance and diversity. The decision to open up the lobby again for public use has been met with mixed reactions, with some questioning the wisdom of treating a transportation center as a social venue.