During the traffic and land administration session today (May 8), City Councilmen Xie Zhi-zhong (謝志忠) and Zhang Liao Wan-jian (張廖萬堅) interrogated the free bus ride policy and recommended that Taichung City Government should go beyond its former jurisdiction to fairly take care of those people who live in the remote mountainous areas and that the city government should raise the free bus ride mileage to help citizens to fight against inflation. Lin Linag-tai (林良泰), Director-general of the Transportation Bureau, thanked the two Councilmen for proposing such a creative anti-inflation program and said that in addition to the 8-km free bus ride, the city government will add 80 more bus routes at the end of this year to make the road network more complete.
Councilman Xie pointed out that the 8-km free bus ride is only good for citizens living in the former Taichung City, a practice not fully complying with the promise to extend the free bus ride to all the townships of former Taichung County that Mayor Hu has made during his election campaign. Now, Taichung County has been merged into Taichung City for more than one year, but the 8-km free bus ride can be enjoyed by people living in two of the three major metropolitan areas in former Taichung County, namely Taiping District and Dali District. In contrast, people living the Fengyuan District have to pay bus fare because the distance from Taichung Railway Station to Fengyuan is far over eight kilometers. Councilman Xie thus suggested raising the free bus ride mileage to fairly take care of people living in Fengyuan District and the remote mountainous areas.
Councilman Xie said that Mayor Hu should not confine his anti-inflation programs on only lunch for school children and bus fare; the Taichung City Government should push forward "anti-inflation ally", instead. He suggested that the city government raise the free bus ride mileage to encourage people to take public transportation. Director-general Lin thanked the two Councilmen for proposing such a creative anti-inflation program and said that in addition to the 8-km free bus ride, the city government will add 80 more bus routes at the end of this year to make the road network more complete.
Director-general Lin pointed out that the 8-km free bus ride is intended to help reduce the burden of passengers and attract people to take bus in areas where the bus system has not built up its customer base; in the areas where the bus system has a strong customer base, the concept that users pay for the service they get should be established, instead. Director-general Lin further pointed out that the bus fare in Taichung City is the cheapest in Taiwan.
Director-general Lin further stated that the monthly bus ridership in Taichung City has risen from 3 million passenger trips to 6.45 million, increasing over 100%. The growth trend has been getting obvious, especially after the anti-inflation campaign was launched on April 1; the bus ridership has since then increased by 10 percent. He also stressed that the goal of the city government is to seek “have” first and then seek “betterment”; meanwhile, Taichung City is caught in the middle process between “have” and “betterment”.