TAIPEI - Passenger volume on the Taipei MRT registered a major increase yesterday as the new Songshan-Xindian Line began services.
The Taipei Rapid Transit Corp. (TRTC), which manages the MRT, said the entire system recorded a volume of about 890,000 passengers as of 3pm, approximately 55,000 more than the average for Saturdays in October.
Passengers riding from Ximen to Songshan - the completely new stretch along route - totaled 143,000 as of 3 pm, the TRTC said.
The new line was formed by rerouting trains from Xindian - previously running to Tamsui - to the new stretch that heads for Sonshang Station, which serves both MRT and Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) trains.
Many passengers said the new line offered much convenience, saving much time from changing trains between different lines.
But there were some complaints about confusing directions inside the stations connecting with other lines of the MRT system.
The TRCT offers free rides along the new stretch until Dec 14, which is meant to allow passengers to better understand the route changes of the system. Stations along the other stretched affected by the route changes will also enjoy a 30-per cent fare discount until Dec 14, the company said.
The TRCT also suggested commuters try the new line during the weekend to avoid getting lost when they go to work by MRT tomorrow.
Department stores located near the stations along the new line said they saw significant increases in customer traffic as they arranged promotional activities - such as discounts, concerts and photo shoots with Santa Claus - to take advantage of the public's interests in the new route on its first day of services.
Citylink, a department store at Songshan Station, expected customer traffic to grow by 40 per cent for the day, a company executive was cited by the Central News Agency as saying.
Shin Kong Mitsukoshi's store at Zhongshan Station said customer traffic would increase by about 20 per cent for the day, according to CNA.
While the new line offers more convenience for commuters and shoppers, and increases business opportunities for shops in the neighborhood, property prices in areas along the route have been rising, real estate agents said.
Property prices in the areas near the Songjiang-Nanjing, Nanjing-Fuxing, Taipei Arena and Nanjing-Sanmin Stations are the highest along the line, topping NT$800,000 (S$33,770) per ping (36 square feet) the agents said.
And the Songjiang-Nanjing area is probably the most expensive of all, with property prices reaching as high as NT$865,000 per ping, an agent with the Yungching Real Estate was cited by CNA as saying.
Property prices in areas along the Xinyi-Tamsui Line have also soared, reaching almost NT$1 million per ping since it began services last year, real estate agents said.
The new line runs between Xindian and Songshan with a total of 19 stations (including the two terminals). It is connected to all other lines at a number of stations.
Passengers who were able to travel from Xindian directly Tamsui will now have to change trains at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station. If they miss the stop, they can still change trains for Tamsui at the Zhongshan Station.