Thu, Jan 02, 2014 - Page 3 News List

MRT ridership smashes record

FAST, EFFICIENT:Although 680,000 more people used the system on New Year’s Eve than last year, an army of helpers cleared revelers 40 minutes earlier from Taipei 101

Staff writer, with CNA

A large crowd views the New Year’s Eve fireworks display at E-Da Theme Park in Greater Kaohsiung yesterday.

Photo: Huang Chih-yuan, Taipei Times

Ridership on Taipei’s MRT system on New Year’s Eve and early on New Year’s Day shattered all previous records, the Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC) said yesterday.

The system transported about 2.75 million passengers in the 24 hours from 6am on Tuesday to 6am yesterday, up 680,000 from a year earlier, the company said.

Much of the passenger traffic came from the estimated 1.16 million people who flocked to the New Year’s Eve countdown party outside Taipei City Hall.

The festive bash, which started at 7pm on Tuesday, showcased top musical celebrities, such as girl group S.H.E.

The massive crowd also enjoyed a 218-second fireworks show at Taipei 101, one of the most anticipated New Year’s fireworks shows anywhere in the world.

TRTC attributed the large jump in ridership to the MRT’s new Xinyi Line, which brings passengers to the foot of the 508m skyscraper.

The line, which began service on Nov. 24, carried 245,000 passengers over the 24-hour period, while 524,000 passengers took the Bannan Line, which connects Taipei City Hall to Nangang (南港) and New Taipei City’s (新北市) Banciao (板橋). Even with the increased ridership on New Year’s Eve, the metro system had cleared all passengers attending the party outside Taipei 101 by 2:05am, 40 minutes earlier than last year, TRTC said.

The company said it deployed more than 1,100 workers, police officers and volunteers at several stations on the Xinyi and Bannan lines to help keep the crowds orderly and shorten the time needed to get the revelers home.

MRT trains, which usually operate until just after midnight and resume operations at 6am, ran through early yesterday morning and would have run for 42 consecutive hours by the time the lines closed early this morning.

The nation ushered in the new year yesterday with a bang at the stroke of midnight, with fireworks shows lighting up cities and counties. Popular rock group Mayday (五月天), electropop diva Jeannie Hsieh (謝金燕) and singer Jam Hsiao (蕭敬騰) were among the stars who launched countdown parties.

Mayday opened the celebrations to screaming fans at Greater Kaohsiung’s Dream Mall with a 40-minute performance.

At the Taipei 101 New Year’s Eve Countdown, Hsieh wore an eye-catching short red dress as she performed an energetic opening to the series of shows.

As of 8pm, close to 200,000 revelers had flooded the event, organizers said, while large crowds were being reported in other countdown parties across the nation.

Before the Taipei 101 event began, crowds were treated to a 10-minute performance by the Ministry of National Defense Symphony Orchestra and members of the Armed Forces Honor Guard, who showcased their rifle-spinning and drumming skills.

S.H.E. were the last to perform, giving a one-hour performance featuring several of their most popular songs.

In Greater Kaohsiung, Singaporean singer J.J. Lin (林俊傑) led the final seconds before the countdown, while singer Elva Hsiao (蕭亞軒) was the last to take the stage at another major party at the city’s E-Da World theme park.

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