Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Taichung Passes Limited Ban on Fuel-Burning Scooters

Taichung is probably the most difficult Taiwanese city to get around without a motor vehicle: it doesn't yet have any mass transit rail, its bus system is difficult to use, and sidewalks are often nonexistent even on busy streets.  So it's very surprising to see that Taichung, more or less out of the blue, has proposed banning its most popular form of transportation: gasoline-burning scooters- albeit only in certain to be determined areas, and not until 2021.  Areas that might be considered are the Shuinan Trade Zone and the city's pedestrian zones (they aren't banned in pedestrian zones already??).  The measure is part of a law to lower Taichung's carbon emissions, and originally was only going to apply to scooters with two-stroke engines before it was expanded.  The city also plans on offering subsidies to encourage people to switch to electric scooters.
Needless to say, the new law caused a wave of online anger from scooter drivers who feel that the Taichung City Government is "oppressing" them.  While I believe the complaints are overblown and think lowering scooter usage is a good thing, I also think a ban is a bad way to achieve this goal, given the backlash it caused.  Perhaps a carbon tax or fuel tax that applied to cars as well as scooters would attract less opposition and be easier to defend.  Also, lack of public consultation before this law was passed helped ensure it would meet opposition from people who felt their interests were not being taken into account at all.
Hopefully the furor will calm down, the ban will be enacted and no one will care much because Taichung will have a much better mass transit system by then, and regardless the ban will only effect a small area.  By bungling this, however, Jason Hu has made it much more likely that Taichung's next mayor will overturn it and do little to make Taichung hospitable for walking and mass transit.


  1. Taichung, harder than Tainan to get around with a vehicle? That... has not been my experience. I guess Tainan has the advantage of being less spread-out, but Taichung's bus system is much better.

    I don't see this ban having any practical effect, assuming it even survives until it kicks in in 2021. I'm guessing the government designates a few blocks around the train station scooter-free (like Zhongxiao West) and calls it a day. It's an unbelievably stupid policy anyway so I wouldn't be sad to see it fail.

  2. It has been my experience, with Tainan's bus system striking me as slightly easier to use, and Tainan's streets feeling more comfortable for pedestrians and cyclists (though still not very). And, as you said, Tainan is less spread out, so walking is more practical. I haven't been to either city in a couple of years though, so I guess things could have changed.

  3. Ah, fair enough. For what it's worth Taichung's buses have improved by quite some margin over the past few years, while Tainan's have... not.

  4. I think that's a correct decision. That's why I prefer electric vehicles and bought one Razor E300S for riding to my office. The model as the same at this web page