The first section of the Taipei MRT circular line might officially begin operations before the end of this month, although a date has yet to be determined, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said yesterday.
A launch date would be decided when Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) returns from Europe on Wednesday, Hou said.
He made the remarks during an inspection tour of the first section of the line, which began free trial runs yesterday.
The line is to serve Taipei and New Taipei City when all sections are completed.
The circular line would help commuters save time, as people in New Taipei City would be able to travel around the city without having to transfer in Taipei, Hou said.
“For instance, it takes 39 minutes to travel from Touqianzhuang MRT Station in Sinjhuang District (新莊) to Banqiao MRT Station, but on the new line it would take only five minutes,” Hou said.
People who wanted to try the new section formed long lines at MRT stations yesterday morning.
The free rides, which are available from 10am to 4pm daily, would continue for a month, even if the line officially opens during the period, Hou said.
During the trial month, passengers who use MRT payment cards would not be charged when accessing the 14 stations along the section, Taipei Rapid Transit Corp said.
However, if they transfer between MRT lines, they would be charged the regular fare, the company said.
The driverless trains would run every eight minutes during the test period, it added.
However, once official operations begin, trains would run every 10 minutes in off-peak hours and every four to seven minutes during rush hour, the company said.
The fares on the line would be similar to those on other MRT lines, ranging from NT$20 to NT$65 based on the distance, it said.
The 15.4km line connects Dapinglin (大坪林) to New Taipei Industrial Park through Sindian (新店), Jhonghe (中和), Banciao (板橋) and Sinjhuang districts.
The line is expected to ease congestion at transfer stations in the MRT network, as passengers traveling between stations in the southwestern area of greater Taipei would be able to bypass downtown Taipei.
Passengers would also be able to transfer to the Taoyuan Airport MRT at New Taipei Industrial Park Station, and to the Taiwan Railways Administration and Taiwan High Speed Rail lines at Banqiao Station.
The first section, also called the Zhong Huan (central circle) section, or Yellow Line, is the only elevated segment of the circular line. The other three sections are to be built underground.
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