Life Made Different with MRT 2021.02.08

Twenty four years after the first mass rapid transit (MRT) line in Taiwan, the Muzha line, went into operation in 1996, the Taipei MRT system (branded as Taipei Metro) has grown into a safe, convenient, and world-renowned transportation network against all doubts and naysaying at the beginning. With multiple lines in operation, Taipei Metro eases the traffic flow in the Taipei metropolis and greatly reduces travel time, thereby expanding the living spheres and gradually changing the lifestyle of the public. With a frequent service network covering all corners of the city, Taipei Metro has made commuting, transfer, Easy Card, and the monthly pass priced at NT$1,280 a part of people’s life. Etiquette and safety rules such as “no eating and drinking”, “alighting passengers first”, “keep right on the escalator”, and “hold the handrail and stand still” are also embedded in the Taipei Metro culture. Taipei Metro’s commitment to delivering service that prioritizes safety, convenience and punctuality has led to its ever-increasing ridership number. In fact, after the Muzha line and Danshui line were connected by the Bannan line that went into operation in 1999, the ridership number doubled within a year and has since maintained a 6% annual growth rate, reaching 789 million in 2019 (please see the graph above).

Seeing the successful experience of Taipei Metro, Kaohsiung and Taoyuan, two of the other five municipalities in Taiwan, followed suit, with MRT systems in the two cities going into operation in 2008 and 2017, respectively. The Kaohsiung MRT system (KMRT) is the first high-capacity system of its kind in Southern Taiwan and is also the first MRT system in Taiwan that connects to an airport. Its ridership has increased each year over the past 12 years, with only the exception of a -1.8% growth rate in 2015. The yearly ridership number reached 68.73 million in 2019. However, the number was dwarfed by that of Taipei Metro due to the population gap between Kaohsiung and Taipei metropolises, the discrepancy of both the number and length of MRT lines and the fact that the KMRT was built 12 years later. (Respective lengths of Taipei and Kaohsiung MRT systems are 146.2 km and 53.3 km.)

The Taoyuan MRT system (branded as Taoyuan Metro) was planned for construction under the government’s vision in 1996 to transform Taoyuan International Airport (the then Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport), an airline hub in the Asia Pacific region and to meet local development goals. After delaying the construction plan six times, Taoyuan Metro finally went into operation in 2017. Despite being the shortest MRT system with a total length of 51.03 km and also having the least numbers of stations and ridership (27.96 million in 2019) among the three major MRT systems in Taiwan (excluding the New Taipei MRT system), the growth rate of its ridership ranks the first, reaching 20-35%. Today, Taoyuan Metro has already connected to Taipei Metro; if the existing Taoyuan MRT lines are further connected to other lines under construction, it can benefit people in Taipei, New Taipei, and Taoyuan by allowing them to reach the other two cities within a day.