Monday, October 8, 2012

Kaohsiung City Councilor Spreads Mass Transit Non-Sequitors

Kaohsiung is planning a light rail line to complement its high-capacity MRT system.  For those who don't know, light rail usually refers to any urban rail system that runs on ground level.  Light rail systems are often also called trams or streetcars.  Kaohsiung's would form a loop around the center of the city.
I think there are legitimate questions to be asked about what direction Kaohsiung should go in with its mass transit system, and whether or not it should build this light rail line.  But Kaohsiung City Councilor Xiao Yongda (蕭永達), the lone city councilor to oppose the light rail line, did not address these issues.  Instead he told made unsupported arguments such as:
-All developed cities with light rail are in cold climates, so people are unable to ride scooters like in Kaohsiung.  This is outright false: San Fransisco, Pheonix, Hong Kong, and numerous other cities in the US and southern Europe all have warm climates and light rail.  Light rail cars can be air-conditioned, which would be far more comfortable in summer than driving a scooter.  Light rail can also be more comfortable during typhoons.
-Light rail would lose money like the rest of the MRT system.  Roads also lose money but no one seems to make a big deal about that.
-Level crossings with roads will lead to more accidents.  What leads to accidents in Taiwan is driving.  I very much doubt that other cities which have extensive light rail/ tram systems have worse traffic safety records than Kaohsiung.
-Kaohsiung's "DNA" is different.  This isn't even really an argument, just an assertion.  Xiao fails to explain what about Kaohsiung is so different that a form of transportation used all over Europe, Asia and America would fail in Kaohsiung.

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