Following the bike ride yesterday there were more activities in Taipei City today to mark Car Free Day (無車日). Passengers travelling on buses to the Xinyi Special District were given free rides if they used an Easy Card (悠遊卡). The streets around Taipei City Hall were closed to traffic, although buses were still permitted. The car free streets seemed like a bit of a pointless exercise. Police were busy directing traffic while the streets were empty. There really needed to be some sort of activity organised to get people on the streets to make the exercise worthwhile.
Update: Car-free day ends in traffic mess, Taipei Times, 23 September 2008.
Mr Luo, director of the Traffic Department of the Taipei City Government said that during the morning peak there was a 5% increase in the number of bus passengers and a 7% increase on the MRT. He also filled in a chart comparing the pollution levels today to those on 16 September (click on the photo for a larger version). I wouldn’t read too much into this though as it is probably influenced more by the weather than a small change in the number of cars on the road.
A more permanent change in Taipei City’s traffic took place with the opening of the underground section of railway line from Songshan to Nangang yesterday. This completes the “undergroundisation” of Taipei’s railway lines with the sections from Banqiao to Songshan already in place for many years.
I went across from the Xinyi area to have a look at the new Songshan Railway Station. The old Songshan Station is still standing, but probably not for long. It will take a year or two to rip up the old tracks and the project will contribute a lot to urban renewal in the Songshan and Nangang areas. In the future Songshan will also be the terminal station of the Nanjing MRT line, while Nangang Station will be an interchange for Taiwan Railways, the MRT and the HSR.
The new underground Songshan Station is operational but not quite finished. Tickets are still being sold in the old station buildings. It still looks like a good facility though and no doubt everything will be fully functional in near future.