The operator of the Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit (KMRT) system said at the weekend that the system would handle 11 percent more passengers per day this year than it did last year, easing the financial woes that have plagued the system since it opened in 2008.
As a result of the merger of Kaohsiung city and county on Dec. 25 and the resulting addition of bus lines connecting various areas around what was Kaohsiung County to KMRT stations, the system is expected to handle an average of 141,000 passengers per day this year, a Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) official said.
That would be a big improvement over 2008 and 2009, when the network averaged 118,000 and 127,000 passengers per day respectively, KRTC Department of Public Affairs director Chang Hsiu-chi (張修齊) said.
However, the system still posted an operating loss of NT$2.5 billion (US$86 million) last year, cushioned by a NT$1 billion grant from a Kaohsiung City Government MRT fund.
KRTC would break even if average volume reached 380,000 passengers a day, Chang said. He added that the target was attainable within eight years if passenger numbers grew between 7 percent and 10 percent annually.
To boost passenger numbers, the KMRT operator is also planning to build a light rail rapid transit system around the city, thereby extending the reach of the existing Red Line and Orange Line — the two lines that make up the Kaohsiung MRT system.