Airport MRT starts limited trial runs

Taipei--The Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line began trial runs on Thursday, with free rides offered to the public in two phases over the course of one month before commercial operations begin on March 2, according to the Taoyuan Mass Transit Corp.

In the first phase, which will run through Feb. 15, group passengers who apply in advance will be allowed to travel for free between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. During this phase, passengers will be restricted to boarding and disembarking at only six of the 21 stations, and will not include the two stations serving Taoyuan International Airport, according to the company.

The six stations are A1 (Taipei Station), A3 (New Taipei Industrial Park), A8 (Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital), A10 (Shanbi), A18 (High Speed Rail Taoyuan Station) and A21 (Huanbei or North Link), the company said.

In the second phase, which starts from Feb. 15 and will run through March 1, a daily maximum of 40,000 free rides between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. will be offered to individual passengers who obtain numbered tags at the stations at 7:40 a.m., 9:40 a.m., 11:40 a.m. and 1:40 p.m. During this phase, passengers will have access to all 21 stations.

Although an in-town check-in service for airport passengers will be available at Taipei Main Station during the second phase, outbound-passengers are advised not to use it until the line's commercial operations begin on March 2.

On Thursday, the first trial run commenced from A21 to A1, with Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (???) and Taoyuan City Council Speaker Chiu Yi-sheng (???) leading around 160 local officials and residents aboard the new train.

Some people who took the ride decribed the line as "the pride of Taoyuan," while expressing hope that it will be able to operate in the black.

However, others said they felt uncomfortable during the journey on a windy section between A21 and A13.

After the MRT starts commercial operations, passengers will be offered a 50 percent discount on all trips during the first month. The trains will run from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, according to the company.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel