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Mayor Attends 2019 Cross-Strait Urban Traffic Seminar Opening Ceremony

 Cross-Strait Urban Traffic Seminar Opening Ceremony Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je attended the 2019 Cross-Strait Urban Traffic Seminar opening ceremony today (July 22) and welcomed road safety scholars and experts from China.

Co-hosted by the Taipei Society for Traffic Safety, Shanghai Association for Science and Technology, Taipei City Government, and Tamkang University, this is the 26th year the seminar has been held since its inception in 1993. He emphasized that since he became the Mayor of Taipei, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and relevant authorities have been dedicated to establishing a professional image. He believes that the only way to face doubts from the public is by establishing expertise and lawfulness in road safety enforcement.

Mayor Ko commented that the theme of this seminar is "Next Generation Traffic Infrastructure." When he was elected as Taipei City Mayor, he did not have any experience in traffic management. However, when he was a physician in NTUH, he led a crack team of ECMO experts whose authority was seldom challenged. To this end, he questioned officials from the DOT as to why city government's transportation-related policies often fall apart easily when challenged, to which the officials replied that medicine is such a specialized profession that no one understands the discipline enough to question it, but as far as transportation is concerned, every taxi driver is an expert and holds their own views and opinions on the subject. The mayor pointed out that the statement is both correct and incorrect at the same time because he believes it all depends on maintaining a level of professionalism, which is why Taipei City Government has strived to make sure that public servants implement policies by complying with the law and establish a professional theoretical foundation regarding transportation. "Everything must be clear cut and without ambiguity," so that the city government's expertise on transportation will not be questioned.

Ko suggested that during his first term as mayor, he formulated transportation strategies before deciding on the tactics and the battle. Taipei's transportation strategy consists of 4 dimensions: sharing, green energy, digitization, and safety. YouBike is one very successful example of shared transport in Taipei City. YouBike, U-Motor, U-Car, and U-Park are essential components of the sharing economy, the current global trend. Green energy refers to public transportation, and the NT$1,280 All Pass Ticket is the solution to Taipei's transport-related problems. The MRT network is built on the infrastructure of the local public mass transit system, and the main route buses are considered an integral part of the MRT network, complimented by shuttle buses, YouBike and walking. He added that prior to the launch of NT$1,280 All Pass Ticket, the main bus routes were not very popular among commuters due to the problem of two-section fares. The problem was ironed out by unveiling the NT$1,280 All Pass Ticket.

The mayor believes that the emergence of unmanned electric vehicles will spoil the rail transport portion of the Forward-looking Program. If an unmanned vehicle is to travel between two marked destinations on a map, the design will prove to be extremely challenging. However, if it is to drive along fixed routes, he feels it will be relatively easier to accomplish. He believes that in terms of green energy and public transport, the design of the electric vehicle or public transport network is crucial and it is imperative that both are achieved.

Indicating that the next step is digitization, Ko points out that it involves the application of smart technology. Currently, the administrative ordinance by the end of this year says to click into the app and immediately see which of the 4,000 roadside parking spaces in Taipei are available. In other words, roadside parking or parking lots will be digitized so that drivers will be able to locate empty parking spaces quickly. This measure will be implemented within the shortest possible timeframe. In addition, traffic lights will be automatically adjusted using AI based on traffic flow. He said that, frankly, this should have been completed a long time ago.

Mayor Ko pointed out that the 4th component is safety. Over the last 4 years, Taipei City's most remarkable achievement in transportation is the Neighborhood Traffic Environment Improvement Program. In the boroughs that have implemented the program, traffic accidents were reduced by 47%, and the figure was further decreased by 60% in the 3rd year. According to the mayor, at the time of implementing the Neighborhood Traffic Environment Improvement Program, never in his wildest dreams did he expect the number of traffic accident fatalities in 2017 to set the lowest record in half a century. Therefore he stressed that the first step to solving a problem is to confront it; for example, after the horrific accident on Yangde Blvd., measures were taken to improve traffic conditions and decrease accidents by 60%. After a traffic accident takes place, one needs to contemplate the cause in order to create a safer environment. This is absolutely something that can be achieved.