THSRC to expand ticket deals

EARLY BIRDS::The high-speed rail operator is delaying the announcement of its new ticket prices to increase its discount program for travelers booking well in advance

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Aug 27, 2013 - Page 3

The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) yesterday said that it has decided to expand its special discount program for passengers to ease the impact on consumers of an increase in ticket prices, which is scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1.

The company had said that the adjusted ticket prices would be announced today.

However, because the special discount program will be expanded, the announcement of the new ticket prices would be postponed until Friday, it said.

Despite the postponement, the company said that its plan to implement a new pricing scheme on Oct. 1 remains unchanged.

The operator’s proposal to raise ticket prices was approved by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications last week, with ticket prices in different sections rising by between 7.1 percent and 9.6 percent.

It is the first time that THSRC has decided to raise its prices since the service was launched in 2007.

Based on the terms stated in its build-operate-transfer project (BOT) with the government, the high-speed rail firm is allowed to raise ticket prices if there is an increase in operational costs.

Ticket prices are to be calculated from the basic rate approved by the ministry, which varies based on the consumer price index.

The company was first given permission to raise ticket prices in 2009. However, it decided not to do so due to the global recession triggered by the financial meltdown on Wall Street.

Earlier this year, the ministry told the company again that it could raise ticket prices, due to the rise in the basic rate.

Under the proposed new pricing scheme, a one-way ticket from Taipei to Greater Kaohsiung would cost NT$1,630, up from NT$1,490.

The price of a one-way ticket from Taipei to Hsinchu would rise from NT$290 to NT$315., while passengers traveling from Taipei to Greater Tainan would have to pay NT$1,480 for a one-way ticket, NT$130 more than currently.

Under its special discount program, the company is also offering “early-bird deals” to those customers who book their tickets early.

Customers booking tickets between eight days and four weeks prior to their scheduled travel date can get 35 percent, 20 percent or 10 percent discounts on ticket prices.

As many people have complained that tickets with a 35 percent discount sell out too quickly, the ministry said it hopes that THSRC would increase the number of such tickets.