FIRST OF FOUR: The Green Line is to link some of the city’s transport hubs, while feasibility studies for a second line are under way, the MRT company said
The first line of Taichung’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system could start trial runs within a week, allowing people to travel for free, the Taichung City Government said on Friday, after it received final operational approval from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
The trains would in the first three weeks of trials operate daily from 7am to 8pm, and from 6am to midnight in the fourth and last week of trials, Taichung Mass Rapid Transit Co said.
The trains would run every five minutes during peak hours, every eight minutes during off-peak hours on weekdays and every eight minutes throughout weekends and holidays, it added.
The MRT Taichung Green Line has 18 stations and is scheduled to start commercial operations by the end of this year, after 11 years of construction, the city government said.
The 16.7km line is expected to improve connections between major transportation hubs in the city, such as the Taichung High Speed Railway Station and two Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) stations — Songzhu and Daqing — as well as Taichung City Hall.
It connects the city’s Beitun (北屯), Situn (西屯), Nantun (南屯) and Wuri (烏日) districts and is the first of an MRT network that is projected to include four lines.
Feasibility studies are underway for the east-to-west Blue Line, which is projected to intersect with the Green Line and connect the Taichung Port and Taichung Railway Station, and would be operational in a second MRT development stage, the company said.
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) said that the lowest ticket price would be NT$20, with fares increasing by NT$5 after every 2km traveled.
The project was initiated in 1998, and construction started in 2009 during the tenure of former Taichung mayor Jason Hu (胡志強), who was succeeded by Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), who held the mayoral office from 2014 to 2018.
Costs for the Green Line totaled NT$59.3 billion (US$2.05 billion), with NT$32.8 billion funded by the central government.
Integrated public transportation development is vital for the success of the Taichung MRT, said Lee Ker-tsung (李克聰), a transportation expert at the Consumers’ Foundation, adding that the city’s public transportation system has in the past few years faced a lot of criticism.
Public bike rentals and bus services should also be expanded, he said.
“People should become familiar with traveling by more than one means of public transportation,” Lee said.
However, incentives in place in Taichung, such as steep discounts, including free rides, are not sustainable, he said.