Voters pack southbound trains, buses for trips home ahead of vote

Taipei, High-speed rail trains and trains run by the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) headed south from Taipei were mostly jammed on Friday, the day before nationwide elections for local government officials.

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. said all regular trains set to depart from Taipei at and after 3 p.m. Friday were fully booked, and it ran an additional train departing from Nangang station in Taipei southbound to Kaohsiung at 7:15 p.m. to meet high demand.

The TRA faced a similar situation. It said almost every southbound train leaving Taipei at and after 6 p.m. Friday was packed, and most of the tickets for Tze Chiang express trains set to depart before Saturday noon were also sold.

Polling stations will be open until 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Travelers also jammed national freeway bus stations in Taipei earlier in the day. Ubus manager Wang Yung-chih (???) said the crowds of passengers were unexpectedly large, almost on a scale similar to those seen before the Lunar New Year when people return home for the holiday.

He estimated the volume of passengers on buses destined for Taichung in central Taiwan and Kaohsiung in the south was 30-40 percent higher than normal on a typical Friday.

A key election issue in Kaohsiung and to a less extent in Taichung this year is the number of people, especially younger adults, who have left the city to find work elsewhere, and the number of people returning home to vote could emerge a potential factor in those mayoral races.

Because people returning home to vote were hard to capture in opinion polls, they are seen as a potential wild card in Saturday's elections.

Taiwan does not allow absentee ballots or mail-in votes, meaning people must return to where their household is registered to cast a ballot.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel