《TAIPEI TIMES》 Taipei Railway Station calls off ban on sitting
People yesterday sit on the floor of the main hall of the Taipei Railway Station yesterday, which has been decorated with decals of smiley faces and the word “smile” in 10 languages. Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter
There will be no permanent sitting ban in the main hall of the Taipei Railway Station, the Taiwan Railways Administration （TRA） said yesterday, adding that it has placed smiley face decals on the floor to welcome all visitors.
The agency in May said that it would make the temporary ban on sitting on the hall’s floor — imposed as part of disease-prevention measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic — permanent to ensure foot traffic inside the station would not be disrupted.
The announcement infuriated many people, including migrant workers and their supporters, triggering sit-in protests in the hall.
Opponents of the ban said the main hall is a public space that should be accessible to everyone, and the move would further restrict the number of places in Taipei for migrant workers to meet on their days off.
The TRA held two seminars, on May 26 and June 3, to hear from civic groups, non-governmental organizations and experts on how the main hall should be used.
Civic groups held their own meetings on June 11 and Tuesday, reaching a consensus that the main hall should remain open to the public and be used to facilitate civic participation, the TRA said.
“To create a more user-friendly environment, our first step was to put 10 different smiley face decals on the floor to show that the main hall can be used for various purposes and all people are welcome to access the facility,” the agency said.
The word “smile” was translated into 10 languages — Mandarin, English, Japanese, Korean, French, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Filipino, Thai and Malaysian — with the decals placed in squares next to the smiley faces to highlight the floor’s checkerboard pattern.
All the decals had been placed by yesterday morning, it said.
“The checkerboard pattern in the main hall has been around for many years, but the use of the public space should be more diverse. Our hope is that people, be they standing or sitting, can come to the main hall and find a place they belong,” it added.
“We will later release proposals on how the main hall should be used to meet diverse demands from the public, including installing seating and allowing non-governmental groups to access the area,” it said.
“These moves demonstrate our commitment to fulfilling our social responsibility and to making the Taipei Railway Station’s main hall a landmark for cultural diversity that is friendly to all,” it said.
Given that COVID-19 has been contained domestically, event organizers are welcome to rent TRA station facilities, provided that participants follow social-distancing guidelines, wear masks and wash their hands frequently, it added.