Tue, Jan 25, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Taipei's transit `EasyCard' payments to be expanded to taxis, parking meters

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Starting from March, MRT card holders can expect to see more functions incorporated into their IC-chip embedded EasyCards, which will enable users to pay taxi fares and parking fees in Taipei City.

With nearly 5 million cards in circulation, EasyCard allows users to pay for service on bus lines, mass rapid transit trains and public parking lots in the capital, simply by touching the card to a sensing device.

The card, which was first launched in June 2002, retails for a minimum of NT$500, including a deposit of NT$100. Users can add value to the card at MRT stations or convenience stores.

Taxi Fares

To expand the card's applications, Taipei Smart Card Corp (台北智慧卡票證公司), the official distributor of the card has teamed up with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and Taipei's Parking Management Office (停管處) to extend EasyCard payment services to taxis and parking meters.

In the first stage, Taipei Smart Card has inked a deal to cooperate with Taiwan Taxi Co (台灣大車隊公司), a Taipei-based taxi service group that uses global positioning system (GPS) technology, to conduct a six-month trial in 300 taxi cabs, or 23 percent of its fleet.

The company will decide later whether the service should be expanded to other taxi service providers.

Taiwan Taxi Co welcomed the new service, saying it would help both cabbies and passengers save time and troubles, such as worries about fake bills or a lack of change.

"After the trial period starts in March, we expect that the number of phone calls [requesting cab service] we receive will jump by 20 to 30 percent from the current 10,000 calls a day," said Vincent Wu (吳毓耕), the company's spokesman, on a telephone interview yesterday.

The company previously worked with Mondex Taiwan Inc, a subsidiary of MasterCard International, to provide a similar cash-free payment system between October 2002 and early last year, when it was halted as the company was facing financial difficulties.

Wu said based on the wide circulation of EasyCard and fast procedure for transactions, the service will become more prevalent compared with the Mondex cards, which must be issued by banks and require around five seconds for the specially-designed card reader to process the transaction.

Parking Sensors

As for expanding EasyCard to the capital's roadside parking meters, the Parking Management Office said 20 toll collection sensors will be installed along Dunhua South Road for three months starting on March 1.

Another 2,000 sensors will be placed by the year-end to better integrate various modes of transportation for EasyCard holders.

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