I think that the people in Forumosa need to be a little bit more proactive when talking about local politics. For sure we have the brains here to make Taipei a better city (if someone wants to start a make your other city better thread, please do it). We know this is a decisive moment, and we can do in a short period of time a compilation of ideas that can be given to all the candidates and newspapers. Forumosa is a space where many foreigners mingle, and therefore, many different experiences can be assembled together.
If we want, for sure we can try to make this country better and start being a more active voice in the local community. Maybe it is up to us, who are from more developed democracies, to give the good example.
My first worry in Taipei goes with the general non-pratical aspects of living here. There are too many things that can be changed just with a small amount of investment.
I allready put it elsewhere, but I will put it here again - The biggest pollution problem in Taipei comes from stormwater (and believe me, after the rain, you don’t get that fresh odour). To address it, I would change the way people think about planning. The easiest way to decrease the stormwater quantity that goes into the rivers is to increase the green mass. This can be done by introducing the concept of rain gardens (uri.edu/ce/healthylandscapes/raingarden.htm), small sidewalks with stormwater retainers (think of a garden before the stormwater collector - nice on the view and it helps cleaning up the water), use of rain barrels in residences to act as a storage compartment for lowering water consumption (when properly equipped, a rain barrel can also be used to reduce the quantity of stormwater in peak moments).
Introducing the concept of external tubes in houses, with 2 functions - 1 is to put all the cables you normally see hanging around (just make a law that states that companies cannot have their cables at view, and enforce it), the second is to conduct stormwater from every single corner of the apartments - this would make houses nicer to view, would reduce the noise created by rain and house reduce the water drops you get when walking in the streets.
Create a partnership with a street furniture company (JCDecaux, by example) to ease the burden of citywide investment on new bus stops, automated public conveniences and newspapers stands. Also, these companies take care of maintenance, creating an image of cleanliness.
Investment on Bus Rapid Transit lines, specially on the major avenues. Either using a conventional double articulated bus or using more expensive systems like the TransLohr (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translohr) they can alleviate the cities troubling traffic problem, by creating a good (and I said good) alternative. In fact, they can use the same system used in some countries where the bus stop acts as a station to the bus, providing both shelter and fast entrance/exit for people, with tourniquets for people to go pass their easycard - the amount you will pay will depend on the actual trip you make, not on the quantity of buses you take). Also, creating roundabouts for cars with middle stations will help people transit between lines, ensure the timescale and increase the quality of the service. I don’t have an exact figure to follow on this, but can explain it easily to anyone using a small piece of paper. Another way of doing this is by centralizing the amount you pay, meaning that if you enter bus route A in stop 1 and exit on stop 5 (pay 4stops equivalent) and then enter bus route B from stop 3-6, you can get a discount on the second one, and not pay a full fare (10 minutes interval between entering bus stop). Also, implementation of monthly fees would be a reasonable way to help the people who need to use the system more. If the Bus system is the one who gets to be approved, low emission buses like the articulated MB Citaro G, are a good way of diminishing the pollution. Also, implementing a global information system will increase the public satisfaction, by providing real-time information for bus schedules.
Creating a Taipei City car pass, where people wanting to bring their car to Taipei city would have to pay a tax (like in London), and this tax would be used to fund the previous proposal. This Tax would be addressed by the pollution type of the car (we can use the Euro 1/2/3/4/5 (this one from 2008) standard to put it for passenger cars). All cars with non-polluting alternatives (just like the Prius) would be considered for 0 tax. This tax can be collected as a stamp to be shown on the right side of the windshield (cars parked inside Taipei city without this stamp would be blocked, and the owner would have to pay a fee to have his car back). Buses and trucks would have to pay a special Tax, which would be discussed with the respective unions.
Introducing Cameras on red light to catch offenders, just like New York did, would be a deterrent for accidents and speeding.
Increasing the number of sidewalks on the streets, as cities are made for people, not for cars. A better planning of the streets will also be needed, especially when dealing with parallel streets having 2 senses of traffic. These sidewalks would include small garden that would help filtrate the stormwater.
Increase the signalization of the streets and improve the application of laws (just apply them).
Fund a global city face wash, by allowing special publicity in the construction protectors - the funds from this publicity would be used to pay the bank loan and part of the rebuild, making the loans for the people interest free or very low interest ones. This formula is used in the most beautiful cities in the world as it gives the landlords a easy and cheap way of having façade reconstructions - this project only applies to the non-habitable area of the building, so that no landlord can use it for own profit. The city can also accept candidatures for buildings who need facelifts that are on sale, being that the building is evaluated before the reconstruction begins and the owner will have this value after a public sale (meaning that the city will get the extra money generated from the rebuilding). If this formula is used correctly, it will create more quality housing in older areas (portovivosru.pt/sub_menu_7_5.php for an example of a 19th century rebuilding in the city of Porto, Portugal; the street where this house is was first opened in 1518; this project is co-funded by 5 companies, and all of them have been offered a full front publicity for a period of time (Schindler for the elevator, Weber for construction materials, Portgas for the natural gas pipelining, Marilina Tintas for the paiting and floor polishers and Portugal Telecom for the full communication package (cable TV and Telephone/Internet Access)).
Regulate the billboards in the city, including establishment of a maximum height for lights to be put, to save both power and give the inhabitants of the city a view to the sky… Publicity in the exterior of buildings should also be addressed as visual pollution.