Incidents reignite debate over MRT’s priority seating policy

Incidents reignite debate over MRT’s priority seating policy (Shutterstock)
Incidents reignite debate over MRT’s priority seating policy (Shutterstock)

TAIPEI (TVBS News) — A proposal to expand priority seating in Taiwan's public transportation is stalled, according to Chien Hui-jiuan (簡慧娟), director of the Social and Family Affairs Administration at the Ministry of Health and Welfare, who spoke on Tuesday (June 18).

The proposal, aimed at revising the "disabled, elderly, women and children" clause in the People with Disabilities Rights Protection Act to include "those with other actual needs," failed to pass before the legislative term ended. This was due to the Legislative Yuan's non-continuation principle, which halts unpassed proposals at the end of each term.

Debates over priority seating have been ongoing since 2016, with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), local governments, and civil groups involved. Recent incidents on the Taipei Metro (台北捷運), including an elderly man hitting a passenger who refused to vacate a seat and a woman who, after giving up her seat, hit her head against a pole, have intensified public discourse.

Despite these incidents, it remains uncertain whether the Legislative Yuan will reconsider the proposal before the end of the year.The Social and Family Affairs Administration is gathering public opinions again and plans to expedite the drafting process to resubmit the amendment.

Previous attempts to revise the law included expanding the definition of "actual needs" for priority seating but were not continued due to a change in legislators. According to the current law, public transportation must reserve at least 15% of seats for priority use, but there is no broad social consensus on this mandate.

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