Sun, Jul 05, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Neihu line opens to mixed reviews

AT LASTHuge crowds resulted in long waits at MRT stations and a cramped experience on the trains, but transport authorities said this would be temporary

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

A car on the Neihu MRT line in Taipei is packed with passengers during a trip on its opening day yesterday.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Minor malfunctions and mixed reactions from passengers marked the first day of operations on Taipei City’s MRT Neihu Line yesterday.

The first train of the line was dispatched at 9am yesterday, taking Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and city government officials, employees of Taipei City’s Rapid Transit Department and other passengers from Nankang Exhibition Center Station to Taipei Zoo Station.

Hau thanked the staff at the department for their hard work over the past six years and invited the public to experience the new line.

“The opening of the Neihu Line means that each of the 12 districts in Taipei City are covered by MRT lines, helping complete the MRT network in the city,” Hau said.

Travel time between the two stations took about 45 minutes yesterday. The doors of the cars failed to open immediately after the train arrived at MRT Xihu Station and Dahu Park Station, while some passengers complained that they were unable to enter the cars because the doors closed too quickly.

At about 10am, a train made a sudden stop between Xinhai Station and Linkuang Station for about 15 minutes before resuming service.

Hau said the train was equipped with automatic safety sensors and that it would stop if the sensors detected abnormalities.

The department later said the sudden stop was the result of a false alarm sent by the sensors.

Because of the narrow cars of the Neihu Line and the large crowd during the weekend, several MRT stations, including Zhongxiao Fuxing Station, were cramped with passengers waiting to use the service.

“The cars are too small. The city government should improve the situation. Otherwise similar problems will happen again,” a passenger who waited for more than 20 minutes to get on at Zhongxiao Fuxing Station said.

Some passengers who took luggage with them at MRT Songshan Airport Station also had difficulty entering the cramped cars.

Passenger Wang Wei-lun (王偉綸), a college student who waited in line at Neihu Station to take the first train, said the overall experience was good, but added that the cars were too narrow.

Another passenger, a 62-year-old woman surnamed Yang (楊), said the operation of the Neihu Line provided great convenience to local residents like her, but added that the volume of the broadcasting system inside the cars should be louder.

Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC) said the crowd inside the cars and in the stations should improve after the first three days of operation, adding that it would send more staff to ensure order at the stations.

The 14.8km line is a medium capacity system connecting the Muzha line’s Zhongshan Junior High School station to the Nankang line’s Taipei Nankang Exhibition Center. Aside from Songshan Airport station and Dazhi station, the entire Neihu line runs above ground.

In celebration of the opening of the Neihu Line, the city government encouraged the public to take the MRT using an EasyCard today and tomorrow at a discounted price.

People who take any MRT line during the three-day period will enjoy a 50 percent discount.

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