TAIPEI, Taiwan - Only 13 percent of people in Taiwan area choose the public transport system, while as high as 72 percent still opt for using their own vehicles and motorcycles, according to a survey by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC).
Of the 23 counties and cities, excluding frontline islands of Kinmen and Matsu, more than 10 percent of commuters only in capital Taipei City, the adjacent Taipei County and Keelung City, and Taoyuan County, currently use public transport networks.
Residents in Taipei City have the highest utilization rate of 34.1 percent, through choosing the buses and mass rapid transit (MRT) networks.
The number of people using several area public transport systems accounts for less than five percent, including the counties of Yunlin, Chiayi, Taitung, Hualien, Penghu and the city of Tainan, according to the survey.
Chiayi City has the lowest rate of only 2.5 percent.
Island wide, as high as 48 percent of people choose motorcycles or motor scooters for commuting and other transport purposes, as well as for convenience and high mobility, compared with 23 percent driving private cars.
The number using bicycles reaches 5.9 percent, compared with 7.2 percent choosing to walk.
The survey finds that other factors causing residents to favor motorcycles or drive their own car includes long travel-distances from bus stops or train stations.
In order to encourage more people to use public transport systems, the MOTC has mapped out a plan to improve highway transport services with a budget of NT$150 million (S$6.6 million) over three years.
The measures will include updating bus routes so that more convenient transfer services are provided for commuters.
Funds will be offered to local-level governments that demonstrate effective efforts to win more people over to using public transport, especially in remote areas.
MOTC Minister Mao Chih-kuo said the survey findings enhances the ministry's plan to shelve the costly projects of building MRT networks sought by local municipal and county governments.
He said the MRT systems should be constructed only after the local administrations improve their bus services and cultivate a massive clientele for public transport networks.
Otherwise, he said, there will be tremendous financial losses to increase the financial burden of tax payers. The MOTC's stance has won support from other government agencies, including the Ministry of Finance, the Council for Economic Planning and Development, and the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting & Statistics, Minister Mao said.