Starting on March 13 next year, high-speed rail passengers will be able to enjoy a special 8 percent discount on ticket prices if they take designated trains leaving at off-peak hours from Monday to Thursday.
The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) originally planned to unveil the ticket price discount next week, but later decided to reveal the plan yesterday.
The company said in a statement that the special discount applies to economy class passengers on designated trains departing between 9am and 11:36am, as well as those departing after 8pm from Monday to Thursday.
While passengers can start booking these discounted tickets online on Feb. 4, the company said that passengers can also purchase the tickets with the same discount when they arrive at the high-speed rail stations, if there are empty seats.
Based on the new discount scheme, a one-way ticket from Taipei to Zuoying (左營) in Greater Kaohsiung is to cost NT$1,495, which is NT$270 less than the original price.
According to the company, the discount is available for 172 trains each week, which account for 18 percent of its train service. It is estimated that about 32,000 passengers can enjoy the discount every day.
The THSRC said that people can book the discount tickets from four weeks to one day ahead. The early-bird tickets, which give passengers between 10 and 35 percent discount on tickets, will continue to exist, but they must be booked eight to four weeks in advance.
The company unveiled the new ticket discount a day after lawmakers heavily criticized it for a series of incidents this year that had caused massive train delays.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) also indicated that the high-speed rail operator’s performance was very disappointing and asked THSRC chairperson Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) to take full responsibility for this.
The operation of trains, however, was not the biggest problem facing the high-speed rail firm. Yeh said yesterday that the company’s financial situation has reached a point that everyone has to take seriously.
Though the company has managed to become profitable in recent years, the company still has a debt of about NT$450 billion. To ease the financial burden, the company had previously asked to extend its concession period from 35 years to 99 years.
Yeh said that extending the concession period alone will not solve the company’s financial problems, adding that it is a simultaneous equation that needs to factor in change in investment structure and ticket prices.