Taichung finally has an MRT
Over 20 years since planning began, 11 years since construction started and years of delays Taichung finally has an MRT.
And on day one, the crowds really came out, with just shy of 71,000 passengers from 7 am to 8 pm, which is impressive for a Monday.
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen was among them, saying the city had entered a new era.
The 16.71-kilometer Green Line is made up of 18 stations, from Beitun Main Station to Taichung High Speed Rail Station.
Along the way it goes up WenXin Road, turns up BeiTun Road and then veers off on SongZhu Road.
For the first month trial period, passengers ride free.
For the first three weeks of the trial period, from Nov. 16 to Dec. 6, trains will only operate between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, running every five minutes during peak hours and every eight minutes during off-peak hours.
From Dec. 7, the system will begin its normal daily service hours of 6 a.m. to midnight, with trains running every 5-8 minutes during peak hours and every 15 minutes during off-peak hours.
They will begin charging fares starting on Dec. 16, starting at NT$20 and rising to a maximum of NT$50.
EasyCard, iPass, and iCash can all be used on the system.
They will celebrate the formal opening on Dec. 19.
The line cost NT$60 billion to complete, but more expansion is coming.
Plans have already been laid to extend the line north into the scenic Dakeng area and south into Changhua City, with proposals for even further extensions, possibly to Lukang.
While the response has been almost entirely positive, there have been some glitches, which is to be expected during a trial period.
There were reports of doors and gates closing too rapidly, and some odd scraping metal noises.
Another problem is that underground parking has only been finished at seven of the stations, with others still under construction.
At some stations where the station parking isn’t yet completed, people complained of lack of parking in the area, and what was available was expensive–in the case of one station NT$50 per hour.
Another issue that has benefited some, but not others is that the prices of property around the stations has exploded in many cases–with Taichung’s prices growing the fastest in the country overall.
And of course there is one group of people who aren’t so happy, as one headline put it, “Taichung’s MRT is running! Taxi drivers are crying”
Costco set to open
In a development that is no coincidence, but rather was carefully planned, the North Taichung Costco is set to open this Friday.
Located not far from the MRT in Beitun, it also has more car parking spaces–810 in total–than any other Costco location in Taiwan as well as its own gas station for members.
In terms of floor space, it will boast nearly 11,600 square meters.
The new outlet will provide more than 4,000 categories of goods for sale, with almost half of them being imported, including of all things, leisure boats.
They have already sold tens of thousands of memberships, and expect the new store to generate annual revenue of NT$6 billion.
This is the second Costco in Taichung.
The first, in the Nantun District, is Taiwan’s most profitable, and when it opened it it set world sales records for the American chain wholesaler.
They are considering the possibility of opening one or two other stores in Taichung in the future.
Registration to begin soon for citizens to keep 10 km free
To keep enjoying the city’s first 10 km free and maximum NT$10 bus charge privileges, city residents who are Taiwan nationals and their foreign spouses will need to sign up for a card with ID showing residence in the city.
Registration starts on Dec 1, and the new policy takes effect in January.
Aside from foreign spouses, all other foreign residents will not be eligible to register, and will have to pay for bus trips going forward.
Registration will take place at 95 locations across the city, including city government offices, libraries and some MRT stations.
Changhua seeking BOT partner on huge transfer station
Changhua County Commissioner Wang Hui-mei has announced they are now seeking bidders on a large BOT transfer station complex in Lukang.
The 10-story complex is expected to house an intercity bus transfer station, a hotel, movie theatres and shops.
Taichung Mayor Lu’s rather unusual day
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen, for a day and including a press conference, wore a giant fuzzy lion head, which appears to be from a Halloween costume.
She was joined by three department heads, who also wore silly headgear, in support.
It was quite an amusing spectacle.
The reason for the funny headgear is she lost a bet with Vice President William Lai over who would win the baseball championship this year, the Taichung-based CTBC Brothers or the Tainan-based Uni-President Lions.
The lions won, hence the headgear.
The mayor took it all in good spirits and with a good laugh, posting up a video of herself on Facebook saying “if I say I’ll do it, I’ll do it”.
Image courtesy of the TMRT Facebook page