MRT raises lifespan of residents of Taipei, reduces accidents: Ma

Commuters boarding and alighting from a Taipei Metro train.

TAIPEI - President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that the availability of the Mass Rapid Transit system (MRT) in Taipei has significantly reduced traffic accidents in the city and boosted the life expectancy of Taipei citizens.

Ma made the remarks while speaking at the inauguration ceremony held yesterday afternoon at the Daan Forest Park Station of the MRT's new Xinyi Line to mark the opening of the latest line to the public.

Ma said that the MRT system has won patronage from many motorcycle riders and thus reduced traffic accidents. Usually, the death rate caused by traffic accidents involving motorcycles is relatively higher than that involving other vehicles, and motorbike riders killed in the accidents are comparatively younger, thus bringing down the life expectancy for citizens of a city, Ma continued, citing a study report issued by the National Health Research Institutes.

According to the report, citizens in Taipei showed higher life expectancy than other cities and counties in Taiwan, due mainly to Taipei having a sound MRT network.

The president said the MRT system had a daily capacity of 170,000 trips when he served as Taipei Mayor in 1998 and surged sharply to 1.05 million trips when his second mayoral term expired in 2006. "The daily capacity has shot up to a high of 1.76 million trips, and is expected to hit a new high of over 1.9 million after the new Xinyi Line becomes operational. All this has marked the steady progress in the development projects carried out by the Taipei City Government over the last 15 years," he said.

The Xinyi Line spans 6.5 kilometers, with each kilometer costing over NT$4 billion to complete, Ma said. But the significance of the construction of the Xinyi Line, Ma continued, is that the line is located in Taipei's busiest traffic section, involving the most difficult construction engineering. But, he continued, construction was carried out smoothly with minimized effects on traffic and related roads. "In this regard, I would like to thank all citizens for their tolerance for whatever inconveniences were caused by the construction of the new MRT line," Ma said.

The Taipei MRT system has ranked among the top three in terms of operational stability, as a member of the Nova Group of Metros (an international railway benchmark community made up of 14 medium-sized metro systems) in the past or a member of the CoMET (an international alliance of large metro systems), Ma stated.

After winding up his speech, President Ma took the Xinyi Line to the terminal station, Xiangshan Station, where he paid homage to a monument built to mark the construction of the new MRT line and commemorate two Thai engineers who died in the construction process.

Starting today, the new Xinyi Line, which will make it easier for people from around the greater Taipei area to get to Taipei 101, will be open to passengers, with free rides on the line to last one full month.

There are seven stops along the east-west line, which essentially follows Xinyi Road: Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Dongmen, Daan Park (referring to Daan Forest Park), Daan, Xinyi Anhe, Taipei 101/World Trade Center, and Xiangshan (near Elephant Mountain).

The new service will make it easier for passengers to get to the commercial area from other parts of town and allow for easier connections in navigating the city's subway system.

Passengers who normally take the Bannan Line (connecting Banqiao and Nangang) to get to Xinyi District, for example, will now be able to transfer to the Xinyi Line at Taipei Main Station and end up with a shorter walk to Taipei 101 and Warner Village.

The new service will also help relieve crowds at Zhongxiao Fuxing Station, as people coming from Muzha on the Wenhu Line will no longer have to transfer there to get to Xinyi District; instead they will be able to catch the Xinyi Line at Daan Station.

Passengers coming from the northern Beitou and Shilin districts will also now be able to transfer directly to the Wenhu Line, rather than having to make an extra connection at Taipei Main Station.