Through a video, a 32-year-old mother surnamed Dai thanked Taichung City Government for constructing multiple accessibility-supporting network, including Rehabus Service Program, barrier-free taxis, Elderly Care Card, low-floor buses, and Taxi Subsidy Scheme to the visually impaired persons. Moreover, Lin Liang-tai (林良泰), Director -general of Transportation Bureau has announced that the Elderly Care Card can be used to take intercity bus to Taipei and/or Kaohsiung, whose trial operation is most likely scheduled at the end of September this year.
Wang Xiu-yan (王秀燕), Director-general of Social Affairs Bureau said that we had only 81 rehabuses before the city-and-county merger, and Mayor Hu set a target to raise the number to 200, a goal reached before the end of 2011, due to donation by citizens. “We have 229 rehabuses as of June 30, 2014. The growth rate is 181%. 176 out of the 229 rehabuses were donated by the private sector. The number of people served in 2011— 2013 grew by 97.45%, and it is expected that the coverage rate will reach 12.77% in November 2014, exceeding the standard set by the central government by more than 100%. We are the second best among the five special municipalities,” said Direct-general Wang.
People receiving rehabus services have spread many heart-warming stories. For example, a mom surnamed Huang from the Wufeng District made a DVD to tell her own rehabus experience and rehabilitation outcomes, and the 32-year-old mother surnamed Dai also expressed her thanks by saying, "Citizens of Taichung are really lucky to enjoy the rehabus service!"
In addition to the Rehabus Service Program, Lin Liang-tai, Director-general of Transportation Bureau, said, “We are the first in Taiwan to set up the Elderly Care Card system. We are negotiating with 8 passenger transport companies and the Card will be used on intercity buses to Taipei and/or Kaohsiung. It is expected that 3 or 4 bus companies will pilot test the operation at the end of September this year. Our elders can pay their bus fare by presenting the Elderly Care Card.”
The Elderly Care Card offers NT$1000 (NT$1500 to an aborigine) worth of bus fares every month to a senior citizen aged 65 or above, person with disabilities, and an aborigine aged 55 or above, who has his or her household registered in Taichung City. The Card can be used to take a bus tour to five cities and counties in central Taiwan (namely Miaoli County, Taichung City, Changhua County, Nantou County, and Yunlin County). A total of 17 passenger transport companies are providing more than 350 routes of bus service. Taichung City Government has budgeted NT$150 million to offer such benefit to about 360,000 qualified citizens.
Moreover, Director-general Wang pointed out that the Taxi Subsidy Scheme should benefit 1,200 visually impaired people in Taichung City. The Scheme is supported by nearly 2,000 enthusiastic taxi drivers.
Currently, there are 12 city bus companies operating 430 low-floor buses in Taichung City. In addition, 3 universal barrier-free coaches are also available for rent to people with disabilities.
Mayor Hu urged our colleagues at the relevant government units to solve difficulty in getting through to the Rehabus Service Program by telephone, to prevent the Program from being abused, and to pay attention to several shortcomings in service, including staffing, scheduling, and driver's attitude. It is hoped that we can work together to build Taichung City into a barrier-free city full of love.