Although Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC) on Friday reached a record total of 5 billion passenger rides since it opened, some Taipei City councilors allege that the firm shows no consideration for the safety of passengers.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) released a report on Saturday showing the top 10 sections of the MRT with the highest congestion rates in the peak hour between 8am and 9am.
The report showed that half of the sections are on the Bannan line, listing the section from Taipei Main Station to Shandao Temple as the most congested with 38,312 commuters per hour, while the section from Zhongxiao Xinsheng to Zhongxiao Fuxing was the runner-up with 36,698 per hour, followed closely by the section from Shandao Temple to Zhongxiao Xinsheng with 36,172 per hour.
Other sections on the Bannan line that were highly congested were Ximen to Taipei Main Station with 32,213 per hour and Longshan Temple to Ximen with 31,190 per hour; the minimum intervals between each train is spaced out at two minutes, 15 seconds during peak hours.
Other congested areas were scattered along the Tamsui, Xindian and Zhongho lines, including the section from Guting to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall with 27,430 commuters per hour; Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to National Taiwan University Hospital with 26,481 per hour; Minquan West Road to Shuanglian with 23,085 per hour, and Shuanglian to Zhongshan with 22,271 per hour. The minimum interval between each train is three minutes at these stations during peak hours.
In the 6pm to 7pm peak hour, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to Guting section of the Xindian line sees 22,174 commuters per hour, while the Daqiaotou to Minquan W Rd section sees 14,133 per hour; the minimum interval between trains is three minutes.
While the report did not list the Wenhu line as one of the most congested areas, it included data for the section from Zhongxiao Fuxing to Nanjing E Road of the Wenhu line, which sees 12,806 passengers per hour and minimum interval of one minute, 40 seconds between trains during peak hours.
The report said that the network’s main transit station, Taipei Main Station, saw 40,000 commuters per hour, about 400,000 a day, while on Feb. 4, a designated Saturday workday to make up for the unbroken holiday period over the Lunar New Year, the Taipei Main Station saw an explosion of commuters amounting to 500,000.
Hsu said that during peak hours, passenger capacity exceeded 2,000 on every train, which was above the 1,600-passenger ceiling according to regulations, adding that this showed TRTC was only concerned with sales figures.
The corporation does not place importance on passenger safety, Hsu said.
Hsu also said that many -commuters have complaining via the PTT online bulletin board, a method of bringing matters to the attention of the city government, and the 1999 hotline, a service where citizens can call in and complain about how the city is being run.
Many complain about the cramped conditions on metro cars during peak hours, saying they become breeding grounds for colds and flu whenever a cold front hits the city, Hsu said, adding that some feel the MRT is an “inhumane and unfriendly method of public transport.”
MRT lines have to be divided to ease congestion, Hsu said.
In response, TRTC deputy chairman Shen Chih-chang (沈志藏) said there was no problem with passenger safety on the MRT, as the interval between trains was managed automatically by a central control system, adding that it was very unlikely there would ever be a danger of rapid braking. Shen said TRTC already has a plan for dividing MRT lines that will be announced by the end of the month.