Airport MRT sees 52,000 riders on 1st day of commercial operations

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A new metro connecting Taipei and Taoyuan recorded 52,000 passengers on its first day of commercial operations on March 2, down sharply from the numbers seen during trial runs, the Taoyuan Metro Corp. said Friday. The company said the volume was only about two-thirds from the average during trial runs, but was relatively high compared to the experience of other newly opened rail systems with passenger numbers between trial runs and first-day commercial operations. The company said the number indicated public confidence in the service and estimated that daily passenger volume on the line — officially called Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Access MRT — would be about 45,000 after the half-price discount period ends on April 1. During the monthlong trial runs starting from Feb. 2 to March 1, the Taoyuan Airport MRT, which serves as both a commuter train and an express connecting Taipei and the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, saw a daily average passenger volume of about 80,000. The highest daily volume of passengers during the trial run period was 170,000, the metro firm said. A breakdown of the volume for the first-day commercial operation, according to the company, shows that the Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 stations at the airport recorded a combined passenger number of 10,000, compared to the volume of 15,000 at the Taipei Main Station.

The company said the figures show that the new line operates effectively for its main target market — air travelers. National Taiwan Sport University, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Linkou stations also posted combined passenger traffic of nearly 10,000, an indication that the line is providing an alternative form of public transport for commuters, the metro firm said. The 51.03-kilometer line, which serves more than 20 stations, runs through Taipei, New Taipei and Taoyuan in Northern Taiwan. The fare scheme originally set the single ride from Taipei Main to the airport — the longest trip on the line — at NT$270, but the pricing was subsequently changed to NT$160. For the first month of its commercial run, riders will enjoy a 50 percent discount on the fares. There are two types of service: The commuter train and the express trains. While they travel the same route, the express trains are specifically for passengers to the airport and stop at fewer stations. The commuter train stops at every station and takes about 70 minutes to go from Taipei to Zhongli, almost double the time needed to travel on the express train from Taipei to the airport. The trains run at an interval of 15 minutes, and services run daily from 6 a.m. till midnight. Travelers flying China Airlines and EVA Airways can enjoy in-town check-in service at the Airport MRT’s Taipei Main station, allowing passengers to travel to the airport without carrying luggage.

The in-town check-in service is available daily from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The metro company said that passengers must check in at Taipei Main three hours ahead of their flights’ takeoff times.

There are some restrictions on the in-town check-in service: passengers 12 years and under who are traveling alone are not eligible for the service; neither are travelers in tour groups. Passengers with animals or unusually long and large items of luggage are also not allowed to check in at Taipei Main.