Transit ridership last year declined amid the COVID-19 pandemic, dropping nearly to the lowest level in a decade, a report released by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said.
Ridership on public transportation last year — 99 percent of which was on buses, trains and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) systems — fell to 2.12 billion, down 13.6 percent from 2019, the report said.
The decline ended an upward trend from 2011 to 2019, when ridership grew from 2.05 billion to 2.45 billion at an annual rate of 2.3 percent, it said.
The ministry attributed the decline to the spread of COVID-19, which began in late 2019.
Taiwan’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 was on Jan. 21 last year. The government introduced tightened border controls and disease prevention measures.
In April last year, transit riders were required to wear a mask and average daily ridership hit a low for the year of 4.71 million, before rebounding to 6.48 million in December.
The mask measure remains in place and is also being enforced at most public venues, such as shops and museums, as well as for large gatherings.
Last year, the number of newly purchased private vehicles and scooters continued to increase, as the government offered subsidies to incentivize the replacement of older vehicles with more environmentally friendly ones were set to expire, the ministry said.
About 460,000 new vehicles were registered last year, up 4 percent from 2019, and about 1.04 million new scooters were registered, up 14.8 percent, the ministry added.
The 80 million kilometers traveled by vehicles on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway (Freeway No. 1), the Formosa Freeway (Freeway No. 3) and the Chiang Wei-shui Freeway (Freeway No. 5) in the summer highlighted the increased use of private vehicles last year, the ministry said.
The report showed that the monthly distances logged by vehicles from May to December last year all surpassed the corresponding monthly totals from 2019.
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