Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) announced yesterday that it will start charging customers its increased ticket prices on Oct. 8, adding that passengers can begin booking early-bird tickets on Sept 11.
The rail operator decided to raise its fares by 9.7 percent following increases in operational costs. Though the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) had approved the increase, it also urged the company to expand its special discount programs for passengers to reduce the impact on travelers.
The company said yesterday that it would provide 790 train services each week that have discount tickets for early-bird passengers — 85 percent of total train services. The tickets available have discounts of 35 percent, 20 percent and 10 percent.
Among the 790 train services, 432 would have 35 percent discounts available. The company would also designate 74 trains that would allow all economy-class passengers to enjoy a 35 percent discount on tickets, as long as they buy their tickets between eight days and four weeks prior to the departure date and there are still empty seats in economy class. For passengers booking eight days to four weeks before the departure date, there are 230 trains on which all three different types of discount tickets are available, it said.
THSRC said 260,000 seats on its trains would be available per week for booking discount tickets through the program, up from approximately 128,000 seats at the moment.
Currently, about 31,000 seats can be booked in advance at a 35 percent discount. The program would increase the number of those seats to about 75,000.
Tickets available for purchase at a 20 percent or 10 percent discount would also increase from about 96,000 per week to 185,000 per week.
The company said the cost of a 30-day pass, which commuters can use to have unlimited access on designated sections of the railway, would remain unchanged.
The company has adjusted the prices of pre-paid tickets, which allow passengers eight trips and are valid for 45 days.
Passengers aged between 60 and 64 will receive a 25 percent discount if they purchase economy class tickets for trains departing between 9am and 11am or after 7pm from Monday to Thursday, provided that they purchase the tickets at the high-speed rail stations and show their personal IDs.
College students get a discount of between 30 percent and 50 percent on economy-class tickets if they show their student IDs when they buy tickets at the stations, the company said.
THSRC said the special discount program would run from Oct. 8 to March 31 next year, adding it would review the results at that time to determine if any changes should be made.
The Bureau of High Speed Rail, the government agency which oversees the operation of the railway, said it is satisfied with the program, but that it would ask the company to develop similar deals in the future based on customers’ response to the program.