Taipei, Feb. 23 (CNA) The government will introduce a NT$1,200 (US$39.56) monthly public transport pass serving Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan and Keelung, as well as vouchers worth NT$5,000 to help Taiwan’s tourism sector recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to subsidize public transport and incentivize foreign tourists to visit Taiwan was approved by the Cabinet Thursday.
The monthly NT$1,200 transport pass that is likely to be launched in July is aimed at encouraging the use of public transport, which was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the decline in passenger volume, acting Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told reporters after an Executive Yuan meeting that day, citing Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁).
According to Lo, Chen said families in Taiwan spend about 12 percent of their household income on public commutes, so the monthly pass will help alleviate some of that burden.
Lin Fu-shan (林福山), director-general of the MOTC’s Department of Railways and Highways who was also at the press event, said the NT$1,200 monthly pass will allow unlimited travel on public transport, including local city/intercity buses, mass rapid transit (MRT) lines, Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) trains and bicycle-sharing services, in Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan and Keelung.
It will be more versatile than the existing NT$1,280 All Pass Ticket, which allows for unlimited travel on public transport in the Greater Taipei area only, Lo said. For example if launched it will help cut the expense for commuters traveling between Taoyuan and Taipei on the Taoyuan Airport MRT line.
The MOTC plan, which also includes public transport fare subsidies for central and southern Taiwan, is part of the Cabinet’s proposed disbursement of the NT$380 billion (US$12.5 billion) in 2022 tax surplus, but still needs to be approved by the Legislature.\
In Kaohsiung, the southern Taiwanese port city said it plans to introduce a NT$399 monthly public transport pass for unlimited travel on the Kaohsiung MRT, light rail, city buses, ferries and bicycle-sharing service in April.
Meanwhile, Kaohsiung, Tainan and Pingtung are also looking to introduce a joint NT$999 monthly pass that will allow unlimited travel between the three destinations via TRA trains and intercity buses.
According to MOTC Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) during Thursday’s press event, the local governments of Taichung, Changhua, Nantou and Miaoli will introduce separate plans for a similar monthly transport pass in due course.
Vouchers to boost tourim
In addition to the public transport subsidies, the MOTC is also planning to issue vouchers to foreign visitors to help the tourism sector recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which Chen said he hopes will help attract 6 million foreign tourists to Taiwan this year.
Under the plan, individual travelers will receive a NT$5,000 voucher and travelers in groups could qualify for subsidies worth NT$10,000 to NT$20,000 for each group.
Meanwhile, the government also plans to subsidize employers in the hospitality sector who hire additional service staff or janitors with a monthly salary that meets a certain level.
At the event, Lin said employers in Hsinchu City and County, Taoyuan, Taipei, New Taipei and Keelung will be given NT$5,000 per worker if they hire new recruits at a minimum monthly salary of NT$33,000, while for operators in other municipalities the minimum requirement will be NT$31,000.
If rolled out, the employer subsidies will last for a year, he said.
Source : FocusTaiwan