Two years from now, people will be able to enjoy the convenience of using a single transportation card anywhere in Taiwan. The first major threshold has been crossed for the multi-card transportation system. Last week the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) began accepting bids for the multi-card purchase system for routes from Hsinchu County to Miaoli County and Linnei Township to Pingtung County. The Pingxi and Neiwan train routes will soon go online at the same time as well, followed by routes in central and eastern Taiwan next year and the following year.
The TRA currently utilizes a system that only allows different smart cards to be used for purchases in northern Taiwan for the two routes running between Fulong to Hsinchu and Shalun to Liujia. TRA has recently announced a three-phase project that will eventually allow multiple smart cards to be used throughout Taiwan. They started accepting bids for the first phase of the project last week. The multi-card system will be available for northern and southern train routes, as well as the Pingxi and Neiwan routes, during the first half of next year. You will be able to purchase tickets using the Taipei EasyCard, the Taiwan Easy Go card, or the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co card.
The third phase of the project includes northbound routes, Hualien County, Taitung County, as well as the southbound routes, bids for which are set to begin at the end of the year after next and should be available by the beginning of 2015. The multi-card service for purchasing a ticket on any TRA train, which includes Taipei’s EasyCard, Taiwan Easy Go, and Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co’s card, will be available soon. The estimated cost of the three-phase project is more than NT$430 million (US$14.8 million).
Aside from TRA, Taiwan High Speed Rail Co (THSRC) has also agreed to allow customers who have co-branded EasyCard credit cards to purchase tickets with their cards, but the service is only available for non-reserved seats. THSRC says it is willing to work with other companies that provide electronic card ticketing services, including Taipei’s EasyCard Co, if they are willing to allow customers to use the cards to purchase high-speed rail tickets.
Among the nation’s tour bus companies, the United Bus Co offers electronic card ticketing for certain routes, but the company’s general manager, Bai Te-tsun, says that a one-way trip can cost between NT$600 and NT$700, so a person sometimes has to add money to their card after only two trips. He also says the number of people using smart cards for ticket purchases was so minimal that they already stopped offering the service for such routes. Other companies, including Ho Hsin Bus Traffic Co, are considering allowing the use of smart cards for purchases, but say they still have to use alternative methods for seating.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)