Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) on Wednesday deflected criticism that the fares on the new airport mass rapid transit line will be too high, saying that they will be “fair and competitive” compared with the existing transportation choices.
The set fare of NT$160 (US$5.03) for travel along the length of the line, between downtown Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, “is very reasonable,” Cheng said, noting that the bus fare between those two points averages NT$135.
His argument reflected a similar comment earlier in the day by Minister of Transportation and Communication Ho Chen Tan (賀陳旦), who said the construction and maintenance costs of the new 51-kilometer line must be taken into consideration.
Taoyuan Metro Corp. (TWC), which will manage the new line when it starts operation next year, has come under criticism for setting the fares at a minimum of NT$30 and a maximum of NT$160.
But Cheng said at a Taoyuan City government meeting Wednesday that the fare is competitive even with travel on the high speed rail, which costs NT$160 from Taipei to Taoyuan and does not include the NT$30 for the shuttle from the train station to the airport.
Furthermore, Cheng said, the TWC is planning to offer discounts to commuters on the line, which runs through Taipei, New Taipei and Taoyuan cities in northern Taiwan, with stops at 22 stations.
Passengers who buy three-month tickets will be given a 40 percent discount, those who purchase two-month tickets will get a 35 percent discount, and those who buy one-month tickets will get 30 percent off, he said, citing a proposal by the TWC.
The airport MRT line, which is scheduled to open next March, will offer a “fast, punctual and comfortable” service, with trains running every 10 minutes, Cheng said.
Since the TWC announced the fare schedule for the line on December 2, officials of New Taipei in particular have been complaining about the fares.
New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) has said the fares should equitable for people traveling on the line, whether from Taipei, New Taipei or Taoyuan.
If the fares are too high, people will not be willing to use the service, which will hurt its business, Chu said.
Wang Sheng-wei (王聲威), head of the New Taipei Transportation Department, also took issue with the TWC fares, saying they should be similar to the Taipei MRT’s.
Based on the TWC fare schedule, it will cost NT$100 to travel between Taipei Main Station and Linkou Station, twice the fare over a similar distance on the Taipei MRT, Wang said, adding that ticketing for the two metro lines be integrated.
He also said the fare of NT$100 was almost twice the average cost of taking the bus between Taipei Main Station and Linkou Station.
In his comments on the issue, Cheng said the airport MRT line passes through three cities, which would have to coordinate among themselves and with the MOTC on matters such as reduced rates for bus transfers from the new MRT stations.
“Those matters cannot be handled by just the TWC,” Cheng said.
The airport MRT project, which began in 2006, is being constructed by the central government at a cost of NT$113.8 billion. The initial completion date was 2010, but due to several delays, the project is now scheduled to become operational in March 2017.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel