Sat, Sep 22, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Taichung sees ferry passenger boom

DISCOUNTS OFFERED:Between January and last month, 53,084 people traveled through the port using cross-strait ferries, compared with 47,931 for all of last year

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Hai Xia Hao ferry, which transports passengers between Taichung and Pingtan in China’s Fujian Province every Monday, Thursday and Sunday, arrives at pier No. 19 at the Port of Taichung on Thursday.

Photo courtesy of Taiwan International Ports Co

The number of passengers passing through the Port of Taichung to use cross-strait ferries from January to last month rose by 66.43 percent compared with the same period last year, the most in the past five years, Taiwan International Ports Corp (TIPC) said.

Statistics from the port company’s Taichung branch showed that the port dealt with 53,084 cross-strait ferry passengers between January and last month.

The number of passengers has varied since the first cross-strait ferry, Hai Xia Hao, was launched in October 2013, from 54,964 in 2014, 32,365 in 2015, 24,046 in 2016 to 47,931 last year, the data showed.

In the past, about 40 percent of cross-strait ferry passengers were Taiwanese and about 60 percent were Chinese, the branch’s chief secretary Cheng Shu-hui (鄭淑惠) said, adding that this year was the first time that the percentages were reversed.

When asked about the reasons for the increase, Cheng said that the Port of Taichung is close to China’s Fujian Province.

The distance between Taichung and the province’s Xiamen City is about 136 nautical miles (251.9km), whereas the distance between Taichung and China’s Pingtan County is 88 nautical miles, she said.

This year, ferry operators have been offering special discounts to attract more people, she said.

The cost of round-trip tickets between Taichung and Pingtan, for example, has dropped from NT$5,300 to about NT$3,000, she said.

Cheng said that Hai Xiao Hao transports passengers between Taichung and Pingtan and leaves from Taichung every Monday, Thursday and Sunday. A one-way trip takes about three hours.

The Cosco Star travels between Taichung and Xiamen and departs from Taichung every Wednesday, she said, adding that the trip is about 11 hours one-way, with passengers spending the night on the ferry.

Both ferries belong to Chinese shipping firms, she said.

“The majority of passengers used to be participants in the pilgrimage for the goddess Mazu, but we are seeing more business travelers and students studying in China using the service as well now,” she said.

In view of the increase in the cross-strait ferry passengers, the port has built a multifunctional terminal on pier No. 18 in addition to the passenger terminal on pier No. 19, she said.

The Taichung City Government has also provided Bus No. 301 for travel between the port’s tourist information center and Taichung Railway Station, giving ferry passengers quick access to the downtown area of Taichung, she said.

More leisure facilities and scenic spots are available in and around the port area, including a bikeway in the port and wind turbines in the Gaomei Wetlands (高美溼地), Cheng said.

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