The MRT Luzhou (Lujhou) Line connecting Taipei County’s Lujhou (蘆洲) and Sanchong (三重) cities with Taipei City will begin operation on Wednesday and passengers on the line will be able to ride for free for 30 days during the one-month trial run, the Taipei City Government announced yesterday.
During the trial service that runs until Dec. 2, passengers who use EasyCards will only be charged if they transfer to other lines.
Compared with the trial services for other MRT lines, which either gave free rides to nearby residents or offered free services for only several hours a day, the new line offers a more generous service, setting off speculation that Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) might be using the free trial run to garner support in the upcoming Taipei mayoral election.
Announcing the operation date at Taipei City Hall yesterday, Hau dismissed the speculation and said the city government decided to extend the period of the trial run because the Control Yuan had blamed the malfunctions of the Wenshan-Neihu Line on its short trial run period, which was three days.
Hau said the city also decided to extend the period because the operation of the line should help ease traffic to the Taipei International Flora Expo.
“Many of the line’s stations are near the expo sites and we encourage all visitors to the expo to take advantage of the line ... The election was not behind our decision,” he said.
Construction began on the line in 2002 and it includes 11 stations. According to the Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC), more than 200,000 commuters are -expected to use the line each day. It will take about 19 minutes to get from Luzhou (Lujhou) Station to Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station and about 21 minutes from Luzhou Station to Taipei Main Station, transfer time not included.
The line’s Xingtian Temple and Zhongshan Elementary School stations are within walking distance of the flora expo site in Xinsheng Park.
TRTC general manager Tsai Huei-sheng (蔡輝昇) said annual MRT ridership is expected to reach 500 million next year.
Tsai, meanwhile, apologized for two malfunctions on the Neihu Line and Red Line that occurred yesterday and promised to step up efforts to prevent similar incidents.
Service on the Neihu Line was shut down from 7:44am to 8:41am because of a power transmission box malfunction at Dahu Park Station. The incident was followed by a one-hour shutdown on the Red Line from 8:34am because of a power shortage at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station.
Tsai described the two events as “two individual and independent incidents” that had not happened before.
The company is looking into the causes of the malfunctions and will examine all MRT lines to avoid similar problems.