Pang Jia-hua (龐家驊), the director-general of the Bureau of High Speed Rail, yesterday asked the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) to either increase the number of trains or cabins to handle the growing demand for unreserved seating.
THSRC started selling tickets for unreserved seats in November.
The measure was warmly received by the public, as it allowed them to board any train operating on any given day and to purchase economy-class tickets at a 28 percent discount.
However, unreserved seats are only available in designated cabins. Passengers are not allowed to go to reserved seat cabins even if seats in the unreserved section are full.
The company recently added a few additional trains during weekends to accommodate passengers with unreserved seats, but failed to report it to the bureau beforehand.
Pang said on average that passengers holding tickets for unreserved seats account for 40 percent of the total train passenger on weekdays and 50 percent on holidays.
“They have been implementing the scheme for six months,” he said. “It is time for them to take a look at the data they have on hand and see if anything needs to be done to improve it.”
Pang said that sales of unreserved seats needed to be actively regulated, as the design of the high-speed rail system requires that the number of passengers who stand in a train must not exceed 25 percent of the total number of seats.
He said that there could be safety concerns if the rule was not strictly enforced.
Pang also suggested that the company consider setting up a specific gate with meters to control the number of unreserved seats passengers on board.
Separately, Pang said that THSRC plans to increase the number of one-way trains running on holidays from 63 to 70 and to release a new timetable next month, but it has yet to to turn in an official proposal.
He said that the trains’ operating hours would be changed to 6am to 12 midnight, from the current 6:30am to 12:30am.
THSRC spokesperson Ted Chia (賈先德) said that the company planned to adjust the number of trains run on the weekends first.
He also said that the company was considering moving up implementation of the new train schedule from June to next month.