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Why is the MRT not constructed underground?
I. Construction plans for the MRT-Wuri Wenxin Beitun Line began in 1990 with the Provincial Government’s “Taichung Metropolitan Area MRT System Planning,” which was approved by the Executive Yuan in accordance with its administrative principles in May 2009, by which time the people of Taichung had already waited for nearly two decades.
II. According to the July 2004 “Composite planning report for priority lines” by the Bureau of High Speed Rail, Ministry of Transportation and Communications: “with an economic cost-benefit ratio of less than 1, an underground system does not have economic feasibility. The suggested construction style of the priority lines is the overpass-style.”
III. Whether the economic benefit (cost-benefit ratio, B/C) is greater than 1 is an important basis for Council for Economic Planning and Development, Executive Yuan’s assessment of major construction works. An underground system only had economic benefits of 0.98, which means that the benefit is lower than the cost and the cost-ineffectiveness could result in the central government’s disapproval of the underground system. [Note: economic benefit refers to the external benefits of the plan, such as the saved time costs or decreases in accident rates; usually plans with economic benefit cost-benefit ratios less than 1 mean that they are “not beneficial,” and the central government usually would not approve them to be carried out.]
IV. On October 11, 2004, the 1190th commission meeting of the Council for Economic Planning And Development agreed to the arrangement, giving the official name of “Taichung Metropolitan Area MRT System Wuri Wenxin Beitun Line Construction Plan,” and the conclusions are listed in brief as follows: “This plan will be carried out according to the second financial coordination meeting held by former Deputy Premier Lin on August 28, 2003 (abridged: since the self-liquidation ratio of this plan is low, the government has arranged to use the public affairs budget for it): the government has arranged a budget for the plan. However, the operation ratio of this plan is greater than one, and will be operated in the OT method. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is asked to ascertain the OT (operate and transfer) business in the design state”; the Executive Yuan approved this on November 23, 2004.
V. In April 2008, Taichung City Government still had a glimmer of hope for an underground system, and requested that Bureau of High Speed Rail reevaluate the feasibility of the underground system. The evaluation results showed:
(1.)In terms of the schedule, a switch to an underground system must follow MRT Law requirements to reapply for approval. In addition, it would be necessary to carry out environmental impact analysis and resubmit results to the Environmental Protection Administration, Executive Yuan, while the basic design and detail design must be conducted again. If this work proceeds smoothly, it is still necessary to proceed to the reporting and auditing procedures as well as design work in accordance with Article 14 of MRT Law. It is estimated that only after completing the work required by Article 14 of MRT Law, it would still take 11.5 years before the system comes into service (the delay would be at least 11.5 years).
(2.)For the budget, based on the price level from September 2006, and considering the influence of soaring prices for major construction materials, it is initially estimated that if the plan adopts an underground system (with 15 stations and 10 trains), the necessary funding would be as high as over 110 billion NT Dollars, and there would be no guarantee that the Executive Yuan would agree to constructions based on this budget for the plan. If approval is received from the Executive Yuan, it would again face the related work and budget arrangement problems. After waiting and pursuing for over a decade, there might still have been a risk that Taichung would be without an MRT system. To avoid disappointing the city residents with endless waiting or unfulfilled expectations, the City Government and City Council had no choice but to accept the elevated system.
UPDate Time2013-10-29 PM 04:53:15
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