Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon announced on Monday that the government has decided to extend the trial run of the Taipa section of the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) for another month until January 31, and passengers can continue to take free LRT rides during this additional one-month period.
The government’s decision came after the LRT was hit on Sunday by its third glitch since it came into service on December 10.
Cheong made the remarks during a press conference at Government Headquarters when asked by reporters about the occurrence of three technical failures in less than three weeks since its operational start. The government convened the press conference to announce the resumption of the Macau-Wanzai passenger ferry service and the local government’s ongoing preparatory tasks for the upcoming operation of the new mainland-Macau joint checkpoint in Hengqin. Several reporters asked Cheong about the LRT incidents during the press conference.
The LRT service was initially slated to charge passengers from tomorrow – New Year’s Day.
The first incident happened on the first day of the LRT operation – December 10. The safety monitoring alarm of a train departing for the Taipa Ferry Terminal Station – the eastern terminus of the Taipa section – was activated when arriving at the Lotus Checkpoint Station in the afternoon. The government-owned LRT operator said later that day that in order to ensure safety, staff at the station arranged for all passengers to get off the train and then get on another train.
The first LRT train departed from the Taipa Ferry Terminal Station on time at 3:33 p.m. on December 10.
The second incident happened on December 22, when a train departing from the Ocean Station – the western terminus of the Taipa section – failed to stop at the designated location when arriving at the Jockey Club Station so that the train doors could not open. The operator then arranged for passengers to get off the train at the next station – the Stadium Station.
3rd glitch ‘most serious’
The third incident, which happened on Sunday, is regarded as the most serious one so far. According to a statement by the operator later that day, there was an electricity supply issue between the Cotai West Station and the Lotus Checkpoint Station at around 1 p.m., because of which the service between the Ocean Station – the western terminus of the Taipa section – and the Cotai West Station was suspended until it was resumed at 2:35 p.m.
The Fire Services Bureau (CB) received a report at around 1.30 p.m. on Sunday that passengers were trapped in the LRT train.
According to local media reports, passengers had to get off the train, which suddenly stopped between the Cotai West Station and the Lotus Checkpoint Station, and walk along the track in order to get to the nearest station under the assistance of LRT staff.
During Monday’s press conference, Cheong said that the government was paying close attention to the occurrence of the three LRT incidents, apologising for any inconvenience caused to residents and tourists due to Sunday’s incident.
Cheong said that the government had ordered the LRT operator to carry out a thorough investigation into the three incidents and propose solutions to prevent such incidents from happening again.
Cheong noted that the LRT is a new thing for Macau and that experiences worldwide show that various kinds of problems always happen during the trial run of a newly-operated railway system, and that’s why tests and trial runs are needed before a railway system finally comes into full service.
According to the Macau Post Daily, Cheong said that one of the purposes of the trial run of the LRT was to find possible problems and then solve them.
Cheong said that “considering the importance of a trial run of the LRT”, the government had decided to extend the LRT trial run for another month until January 31, adding that passengers could continue to take free LRT rides during this additional one-month period.