Ministry turns to rail and high-speed bus services to facilitate travel when TRA workers do not report for work on May 1
By Shelley Shan / Staff Reporter
The Ministry of Transport and Communications is due to announce a contingency plan on Friday to facilitate passenger transportation during the International Workers’ Day long weekend, as the majority of Taiwan Railways Administration workers ( TRA) threatened to take May Day off in protest against a plan to turn the agency into a corporation.
The legislature’s transportation committee is due to consider and deliberate on a draft statute of the Taiwan Railway Corporation on Thursday morning.
Transportation and Communications Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) met with members of the Taiwan Railways Union on Friday, who demanded the transportation ministry withdraw the draft statute it proposed to the committee, to negotiate with the union and submit a new plan.
Wang rejected the union’s request, saying “the train to reform the TRA has taken off and there is no turning back.”
“We hope that all safety measures can be fully realized through comprehensive structural reform of the railway agency,” Wang told reporters on the sidelines of the committee meeting.
“If we submit the draft statute after reaching consensus with the union, it could take years. We can’t wait that long because it’s about public safety. The union has also offered its version of the bill, and we hope to rationally discuss these differences and finalize the direction of structural reform,” he said.
While Wang pledged to continue communications with union members, he said the ministry had prepared a contingency plan for transportation over the long weekend, using high-speed rail service, as well as highways, expressways and city bus systems, with details expected to be announced on Friday.
“We now know that over 90% of train drivers will not report for work on May Day, but 60% of station workers will work on that day,” he said.
About 17,000 travelers have booked tickets for trains departing on May 1, Wang said, adding that they can get full refunds if they cancel their tickets.
The agency has not yet estimated how many travelers would buy train tickets at stations on the day of travel or pay for their journey with EasyCards or e-tickets.
The high-speed rail system can carry 25,000 passengers per day. So far, only around 20,000 people have booked tickets for train services leaving on May 1, the TRA said.
“Residents of Yilan, Hualien and Taitung counties are being punished for the ministry’s inability to resolve the conflict with TRA workers,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmaker Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁) said. , adding that the ministry should endeavor to solve the problem. crisis before it happens.
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