New multiple-card reading machines are set to make travel more convenient, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said yesterday.
The service will be available on three different bus routes starting tomorrow, it added.
The ministry said the Banciao-Keelung (板橋─基隆) route operated by Taipei Bus, the Taichung High Speed Rail Station-Lugang (鹿港) route operated by Chan Hua Bus and the Kenting Express (墾丁快線), jointly operated by four bus services will all be equipped with multiple-card reading machines, which can read Taipei EasyCards (悠遊卡), Taiwan Smart Cards (台灣智慧卡), I Pass cards (高捷一卡通) and freeway electronic toll collection cards (ETC, e通卡).
Ministry of Transportation and Communications Deputy Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said the ministry has budgeted NT$15 billion (US$515.3 million) on a three-year plan to promote the use of public buses. Integrating the different electronic cards used nationwide would be the key, he said.
The ministry plans to expand the service nationwide he said. By April next year, 34 bus operators in Taipei, Keelung, Taichung, Changhwa and Nantou Counties will have multiple-card reading machines installed in 6,795 buses operating on 795 bus routes. Chen Wei-ren (陳威仁), who was formerly MOTC deputy minister before assuming the post of Taipei deputy mayor last Saturday, spent two years working on the project. He said the original plan was to allow passengers to travel around the country with just one card.
“The one-card policy was too difficult to execute because it went against market mechanisms,” Chen said. “Different cards also have different formats.”
Chen added that the multiple-card reading machines allow the ministry to research passenger behavior. They can also accurately identify bus routes that need government subsidies.