Using your smartphone to buy tickets for the high-speed rail is about to be even more convenient and faster. During the stockholders’ meeting held at the end of June, Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) chairman Ou Chin-der announced that starting in September passengers would be able to use their smartphones to purchase tickets and get through the gate up to five minutes prior to departure.
Ou also says that THSRC is in the process of deciding whether the price will be higher for smartphone tickets.
After it started operating in Jan. 2007, the high-speed rail suffered severe financial losses during its first three years of operation, and although it started to turn a profit in 2011, the company’s accumulated losses have topped NT$64 billion (US$2,131,698,960). The build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract with the government gives the company exclusive operating rights for 35 years, so THSRC must pay around $NT19 billion annually in amortized installments, making it very difficult to operate. THSRC has presented a proposal to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications asking to extend the BOT contract to 99 years.
While offering discount tickets to seniors is a good government policy, Ou says that the overall financial burden of offering senior discounts has reached NT$7.7 billion and that the number is rising by NT$1.4 billion every month, so he hopes that the government will swiftly agree to subsidize this expense.
The ministry responded by saying it would need additional information to alter the concession deal.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)