Transport shorts

There are a few recent articles on transport issues that I would like to comment on.


I snapped this photo of a green electric bus in Taipei on 1 January. The bus is currently being shown at an international conference on vehicle greenhouse gas reduction technologies in Taipei. It runs on a Li-ion battery that gives it a range of 300 to 400 km per charge. The bus is expected to go into mass production next year.

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Taipei’s Songshan Airport has been in the news this week. Stanley Yen, president of the Landis Hotels Group, proposed that the airport be redeveloped as a park. He also noted that this would create many opportunities for property development as height restrictions on buildings around the airport could be removed.

The idea is not new. It was proposed by Lee Ying-yuan and Frank Hsieh when they were the DPP candidates for Taipei Mayor in 2002 and 2006 respectively. I have also discussed the issue on this blog saying the airport should be closed and noting the decline of Taiwan’s domestic aviation industry.

It seems the government has other ideas though. Songshan has serviced Taiwan-China routes since July last year. Now the Ministry of Foreign affairs has announced plans for flights between Songshan and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport starting from October 2010.

Sadly it seems that convenience for business travellers is considered more important than quality of life for Taipei City residents.

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The Taipei Times notes plans for a Keelung-Penghu-Xiamen ferry service. If approved Ocean LaLa, operated by Taipei-based Excalibur International Marine Corp, would have four return services per week on the route.

This follows the Ministry of Transport earlier giving permission to Star Cruises to operate cross-strait cruises. However, there was some dispute over whether these cruises would be considered passenger services.

I think that ferries linking Taiwan with China are an interesting idea. I would like to see a study conducted comparing the greenhouse gas emissions of ferry services compared with air travel.

6 thoughts on “Transport shorts

  1. Hey David, just to make a couple of quick comments on the Sungshan airport issue since I live in the area.

    1) Removing the airport would *not* allow for building height restrictions to be removed and probably wouldn’t allow for a lot of additional commercial development. The reason is, there is a very large air force base right next door.

    2) Security. This is sort-of related to the “China” routes going there. Being smaller, being located right in the city, and with the military base right next door, it commonly used for stars, dignitaries, etc… . In fact, that’s the airport they flew the pandas in to for that very reason.

    Because the takeoff direction of the runway is toward the undeveloped area of Neihu/the river and not the Sungshan area and Taipei, the noise pollution isn’t bad at all. The sound of the cars and scooters is worse. Actually, when I lived in San Chung, which is under the landing pattern of CKS, was a LOT worse. Where I live on FuJin St, >1km east of Sungshan airport, it’s relatively quiet.

  2. Brian,

    Ideally the airport would be closed completely including the military operations. I realise that this does raise an additional issue for consideration of future use of the site though.

    I think security at Taoyuan would actually be much better as it is a modern airport designed to higher standards. The cases you mention are for the sake of convenience not security.

    Noise may not be a big issue particularly since the number of flights has declined significantly in recent years. The key point is that more people would benefit from living next to a park than an airport. It is a simple utilitarian argument.

  3. Distance is a security issue, isn’t it? My meaning is, if an “insert-person-who-needs-security” is visiting, say, President Ma, wouldn’t a shorter route be a more secure one?

    Is CKS used as a permanent military airfield, too? If so, then I agree that closing the military operations at Sungshan is doable. Remember though, that the air force is the most important component in Taiwan’s military. Taiwan has the largest per-capita air force in the world for a specific reason: it’s the best defense against any type of PRC (military) offensive.

    That being said, if CKS is also doubling as a permanent (not temporary-in-time-of-need) housing and launching point for air force craft and operations, then Sungshan really isn’t needed.

    I would enjoy a Da-An-sized park just a few blocks from my home, especially since my twins just learned how to ride bikes and it would give my community (also rated the greenest in Taipei city last year) a second large park (the other being Min-Sheng park).

    Oh, on the ferry vs. aircraft carbon emissions thing…it all would come down to how many people would each ferry carry vs. how many people the aircraft would. My guess, assuming the links prove popular and so you could constantly fill seats, is that aircraft would have a lower per-person carbon footprint. It could be made even lower by mixing bio-fuel in with the kerosene(jet fuel) as some airliners are already doing. But of course bio-fuel has it’s own issues depending on the source.

    But that’s just a guess.

  4. Brian,

    I am not really clear what you mean by security. Distance from the city centre is only one factor involved in security. And as far as travelling from the airport to the city centre goes it is possible to go directly onto a freeway from Taoyuan Airport which is much safer than driving out of Songshan Airport into a traffic jam on Fuxing North Road. To provide further evidence for my case when Chen Yunlin came to Taiwan he landed at Taoyuan Airport. I am sure security issues were a major factor in that decision.

    I know you enjoy playing the devil’s advocate, but at least you say you would enjoy a large park near your home. I am sure most of your neighbours would too and it would bring far more benefits to everyone than the airport currently does.

  5. To counter your “Chen Yunlin” argument, the pandas (also a security concern) were flown into Sungshan. 🙂

    David, this is what happens…what *really* happens at Sungshan airport security-wise and what I actually witness at least once a month. It used to be more often when Chen Shui-Bien was president because his son-in-law(?) lived on Fu-Jin street, too.

    Security concerns don’t exit FuXing. They exit via the airbase entrance and go down GuangFu, which is bordered on one side by a high wall and has very little access from the other side (2 minor residential streets and Min-Chuan). There is very little traffic. Police are stationed at each corner to control the traffic lights so that the group (and it’s always a stereotypical group…black cars with blacked out windows flanked by police), have green lights all the way down.

    I deal with this going to work, since I take GuangFu N. Rd all the way to ChungXiao from my home on the regular basis, which is why I keep raising the security concern. I know how the plan works from this end.

    See you later today! I’m bringing a 60 year-old relic.

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