The Xinzhuang MRT Line in the greater Taipei region will begin commercial operations on Thursday, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) announced yesterday.
The 8.2km Xinzhuang Line, which extends from Daqiaotou Station in Taipei to Fu Jen University Station in New Taipei City, will begin services at 2pm on Thursday and trips on the new line will be free of charge for one month, the two mayors said.
Officials decided to offer a month of free service after receiving a positive response to a similar measure when the Luzhou MRT Line was inaugurated on Nov. 3, 2010, Hau said. The Luzhou Line runs between New Taipei City’s Lujhou District (蘆洲) and Taipei’s Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station via Daqiaotou Station.
In addition, four new shuttle bus lines that connect the Xinzhuang Line with several districts in New Taipei City will also start operating on Thursday, Chu said.
As part of celebrations for the launch of the MRT line, the new shuttle bus services will also be free for the same one-month period, he said.
According to the Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems, the Xinzhuang Line would follow the same route as the Luzhou Line from Daqiaotou Station to Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station in downtown Taipei.
It is estimated that a ride on the MRT system from Fu Jen University Station to Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station will take about 24 minutes, or about half the time it takes to travel between the two points by bus.
Many residents in Sinjhuang District (新莊), New Taipei City, are excited about the start of the MRT service.
“I have longed for the MRT for many years,” said Chen Hung-yuan, who has lived in Sinjhuang since he was a child.
Chen said he has always felt Sinjhuang was treated as a “second-class city” that had no convenient services, such as an MRT line.
Once the Xinzhuang Line begins operations, Chen said, it would take him just a few minutes to get to work.
“It will be really convenient,” he said.
The underground Xinzhuang Line was originally designed to include two more stops — Danfeng and Huilong — but work on the remaining stations has been delayed because of claims that the construction of a maintenance depot has damaged the nearby Losheng (“Happy Life”) Sanatorium, a cultural heritage site built in 1930 to quarantine leprosy patients.
The Losheng Youth Alliance, an organization made up of mostly college students calling for the protection of the Losheng facility, say that the depot’s construction has caused landslides, which have resulted in cracks in the old buildings.
The Xinzhuang Line consists of seven stops: Taipei Bridge Station, Cailiao Station, Sanchong Station, Xianse Temple Station, Touqianzhuang Station, Xinzhuang Station and Fu Jen University Station.