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高雄捷運為什麼沒人搭?
撰文者: Wayne 發表日期: May 30, 2009 – 8:54 am

《為什麼捷運沒人搭?》
【聯合報╱楊照】2009.04.27

交通部長毛治國說得對,如果連公車使用率都不高,幹嘛要蓋捷運?就連台北,捷運的使用率都只有四成,高雄捷運早就傳出蓋好沒人搭的窘狀,那麼其他地方,要怎樣蓋出有人搭的捷運系統呢?

不過,毛部長該進一步說,卻沒有說的是:為什麼台灣捷運使用率那麼低?毛部長應該不是不知道答案所以沒說,而是聰明地選擇不說。

摩托車太多了。

最明白的答案:因為台灣有太多摩托車了。摩托車在台灣太方便,大眾捷運系統再怎麼樣都沒辦法跟摩托車競爭。公車捷運怎麼可能什麼巷道角落都能到,單行道可以闖、人行道可以闖,一直把人送到目的地,反正到了那裡摩托車高興怎麼擺就怎麼擺。摩托車雖然不能騎高速公路、快速道路,不過大部分時候靠著鑽來鑽去的騎法,還是可以比開車來得快,更不必提比搭公車快了。而騎摩托車要付出的成本,只比搭捷運稍稍高一點點而已,比開車便宜太多了。

有這麼多好處,尤其有台灣人最在意的「方便」,摩托車大受歡迎,於是提議要管摩托車,尤其要形成限制摩托車的政策,在政治上就成了大大不方便的事了。可是不限制摩托車,摩托車到處方便橫行,那麼談大眾運輸系統要怎樣繼續談下去?事實上,因為摩托車方便,讓大眾運輸系統無法達到量上的經濟效應,所以政府不能放手投資發展大眾捷運,排擠剝奪了既不開車也不騎車最弱勢族群的交通資源,這種大不公平,很不幸的,不在我們交通部的考量範圍內。

簡單的事實,所有大眾捷運系統利用率高的城市,從紐約到倫敦到東京,哪一個城市看得到摩托車滿街跑的情況?簡單的事實,摩托車可以任意橫行的城市,絕對不可能同時創造出一個可以讓單車安全慢行的環境,那麼騎單車活動再怎麼流行,都只能到郊外特定路線休閒騎騎,不可能真正改變城市內部生活型態

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This article hits the nail on the head. One of the factors that contribute to Taiwan’s hailing traffic problem is the government’s failure to effectively regulate scooter drivers. There is no denying that Taiwan is a scooter heaven, where there is almost one scooter for every adult over the age of 18. Scooter riding does have some advantages. They are  cheap to purchase and maintain. A decent second-hand scooter can be as inexpensive as NT$ 10,000. With the rising price of gas, scooters really offer great fuel economy. You can greatly reduce gas spending by riding a scooter back and forth to work and in your general neighborhood. Also, scooters provide much flexibility in getting to harder-to-reach places around the island.

With this being said, scooter riding can be very dangerous. I used to ride a scooter to work, but I had 1 or 2 “almost accidents” every week that either happened to me or somebody really close to me. Once in a while, things got really nasty with horrible accident scenes that are not recommended for the fragile.

Some scooter riders simply don’t give a shit to the law. You can always see people riding scooters through red lights, even dashing along on the pavement against traffic sounding the horn to alert pedestrians. I sometimes get confused about whether it is me or those assholes who are breaking the law. I would have to say that Taiwanese roads are the most dangerous ones that one could have ever seen around the world. As the author says in the article, Taiwanese people only care about “convenience and flexibility” because we are living in a densely populated and high speed society where everyone wants to get to his destination as quickly as possible with little or no regard to the safety of himself or others. Why do you ride a scooter? If you ask people in the street. Most people would probably answer, “Well, scooters are easier to park, take up less space, and highly mobile. They are also cheap to get and maintain.”

To survive Taiwan’s extremely dangerous roads, you’d better do more than just prepare for the worst. Expect to be amazed by some new act of lunacy every time you get on your bike  or in your car. Even if you’re a careful bike rider or car driver, there is no guarantee of safety because it is simply a jungle out there with so many crazy idiots on the roads. Plus, it is commonplace to see someone riding a scooter with a full-sized husky standing on its hind legs, or 3 – 5 people (usually the members of a family) on a small scooter with the smallest kid standing between the father’s legs. A friend of mine from Boston was amazed to see this, and he made fun of it by saying Taiwan had invented revolutionary “baby airbags,” an achievement that could never be found elsewhere around the world.

I am a big fan of public transportation systems. When I was a high school student, Taipei used to be completely backed up by buses, private cars, and taxis. The traffic was always jamming the roads during the rush hour. I’m amazed to see how much traffic has been reduced in Taipei since the Taipei MRT started operation. It only takes me an hour a day to commute to and from work via the MRT. I cannot imagine living in Taipei without this excellent transit system. To be honest, I refuse to get on a scooter and put my life in jeopardy every time I brave the traffic. I know that the Taipei MRT is hurting the business of public buses and taxis, but it is an inevitable growing price to pay to transform Taipei into a healthier and greener city.

Taiwan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Good public transportation is the only way to go in solving the increasingly serious traffic problem. Public transportation systems may have high up-front costs, but they just make sense in the long run. Other major cities in Taiwan that are suffering a major traffic crisis will do well if they follow Taipei’s example. However, it seems that although huge pressure on our transportation networks occurs during virtually all extended holidays, the government, as well as the private sector, is still unwilling to engage in consideration of comprehensive transportation policies. Many people are under the impression that traffic jams are an unavoidable consequence of living in a densely populated country like Taiwan. But it really doesn’t have to be that way. The problem we are experiencing stems from the fact that there is an over reliance on private cars and scooters. As long as the government launches public service announcements to encourage people to use public transportation, imposes higher taxes for private car and scooter purchases, and makes laws that require scooter riders to pay for their using public parking lots, more and more people will consider commuting by means of public mass transit systems, public buses, and railways, which are more environmentally friendly, more energy and space efficient, and far safer.

As we all know, the failure to build a comprehensive network of mass transit systems is taking its toll on the operation of the Taiwan High-Speed Railway (HSR). The opening of the high speed rail manifests how poorly developed the island’s public transport infrastructure is outside the Taipei city. Although the HSR has the capacity to move large numbers of people between the major cities on  the west coast, it efficiency is hampered by the time and inconvenience of travelling to the stations that are far from city centres and not yet connected by mass transit or light rail systems.

In addition to the convenience issue, climate change is making it more and more important for Taiwan to adopt innovative solutions to traffic problems. As a member of the world community, we cannot avoid our responsibility to improve energy efficiency and curb the emissions of greenhouse gases. Failure to do so will hurt Taiwan’s overall competitiveness and damage the island’s image in the future.

The need to improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution must be the key drivers of the government’s transportation policy, which necessitates the shift of priority from private cars and scooters to mass transit systems, including constructing commuter or light rail systems and ancillary networks in which the HSR can effectively act as a “backbone” for the north-south rail link. In fact, the HSR provides an ideal building block for the expansion of rail-based transport systems along the west coast.

Do we need mass transit systems for major cities in Taiwan? The answer is positive. But the question remains: will the government be determined enough to address the root cause of our traffic problems?

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