Taipei City to issue unlimited monthly passes for MRT

Starting Jan. 1 next year, Taipei City will introduce a monthly pass for unlimited rides on its mass rapid transit system, Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said Sunday.

The initiative is aimed at encouraging greater use of public transportation and cutting costs for less privileged workers who have to commute from suburban areas to the city center, he said.

“It’s mostly poor people who live in the suburban areas,” Ko said. “It doesn’t make sense to punish them with higher transportation costs.”

He said residents of areas like Xinzhuang and Tamsui already spend a lot of time commuting to Taipei, and “should not have to pay a lot of money to commute.”

Under a three-month pilot program, the passes will be sold at NT$2,500 (US$78.5) each and will be valid for unlimited rides on the MRT for a month, Ko said.

After three months, the city government will review the program and decide whether to expand it to include public bus rides in New Taipei and Keelung cities, Ko said.

He said one of the goals of introducing the unlimited monthly pass is to reduce pollution by encouraging motorcyclists to use the MRT instead.

“We’ll see how it works when the initial results are in,” the mayor said in response to reporters’ questions on whether NT$2,500 per month in transportation costs was enough of an incentive to convince commuters to switch from low-cost motor scooters.

Any type of reform has to be assessed in stages, Ko said, promising that MRT fares will not be increased during his term as mayor.

Ko indicated that he might consider using the revenue from parking fees to help fund the city’s public transportation system, which he said is being operated on the tenets of sharing, use of green energy and use of Internet technology.

He said the concept of sharing is represented in the use of buses and the mass rapid transit system, green energy refers to the use of electric cars and city bicycles (U-bikes), and use of Internet technology means “learning from Uber.”

“We should either legalize Uber services or raise the efficiency of our taxi service to Uber’s level,” Ko said. “As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them.”

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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