Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) over the weekend said that the Gangshan South MRT Station, which began operating on Sunday, would help Gangshan District (岡山) prosper and thrive, while Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) promised to try to have the line extended to the the city’s Lujhu District (路竹).
Since its launch in 2008 up to the middle of this month, the Kaohsiung MRT has served more than 220 million people. However, Gangshan District residents have long complained that despite their district housing the engineering center of the MRT’s red line and being criss-crossed by railtracks, it did not have an MRT station.
The city government sought to remedy the problem and began building the Gangshan South station in January last year, Chen said, adding that due to the efforts of the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC), the station had been approved for public use by the Ministry of Communications and Transportation on Tuesday last week, despite having an original approval date of June 2014.
Chen also said that it was the city government’s primary goal to extend the line to the northern parts of Gangshan District, adding that it would also seek the ministry’s approval to extend the line to the Lujhu District.
Wang also promised that he would work with local legislators to lobby for the line’s extension.
Public Construction Commission Minister Chen Jeng-chuan (陳振川) said the central government was supportive of the Greater Kaohsiung City Government’s efforts to develop the city’s MRT line.
Meanwhile, KRTC secretary-general Hao Chien-sheng (郝建生) said that although the company had at first been unwilling to build the station becasue of undesirable investment and return ratios, Chen Chu eventually persuaded the company to approve the project.
With a budget of NT$1.1 billion (US$37.8 million), of which the city government financed NT$800 million and KRTC provided NT$300 million, the company also built a transfer station alongside the Gangshan South station to facilitate transfers to other modes of public transport, Hao said.
The company has also secured investors to develop the land surrounding the station, with the construction of medical facilities, restaurants and department stores around the station set to be completed by next year, Hao said.
To encourage more city residents to take the MRT, the firm has begun offering holders of the I Pass — the city’s equivalent of the Taipei MRT’s EasyCard — free journeys between the Gangshan South MRT Station and the Ciaotou Sugar Refinery MRT Station for the next three months.
The city government’s Transportation Bureau is also offering free rides on Line 5 buses, which ferry passengers to and from Gangshan South station, Hao said.