Ministry may revise train fare system

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Sep 25, 2015 - Page 4

The government would consider revising the mechanism used to set train ticket prices after lawmakers noted mismatches in the services and fares offered by railway operators, Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Jian-yu (陳建宇) said at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said that, for instance, fares on the same route offered by the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) are the same, but some trains arrive at their destinations earlier because they have fewer stops.

Lee said the TRA uses three different types of trains for its Tze-chiang class services: tilting trains, push-pull trains and diesel-powered trains. The tilting trains are used on the Taroko Express and Puyuma Express line, which mainly serve passengers traveling on the east coast, he said.

Though people pay the same price for all three, the quality of service they offer are very different, he said.

Lee and DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) also questioned the pricing scheme used by the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC).

Three new stations are scheduled to be added to the high-speed rail route in December, and THSRC is preparing to offer four types of services, with the fastest taking only 96 minutes to arrive at its final destination, while the slowest one would take 138 minutes, the lawmakers said.

“The faster service only stops at Banciao (板橋), Taichung and Kaohsiung after it leaves Taipei. Chiayi and Tainan are closer to Taipei than Kaohsiung [is to Taipei], but people living in Chiayi and Tainan have to put up with slower services and are asked to pay the same price as those in Kaohsiung. People in Chiayi and Tainan are treated as secondary citizens,” Yeh said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said that the THSRC should let legislators know the cost of operating these service routes, such as Taipei to Kaohsiung, Taichung to Kaohsiung and Taipei to Taichung.

“We have just restructured THSRC’s finances to save it from bankruptcy. If ticket prices are set too low, the company’s financial situation would get worse. Then taxpayers’ money, or the money of those who have never taken the high-speed rail, would be used to bail out the firm again,” Lo said.