TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese welcomed the new year with countdown parties and fireworks shows held overnight across the island.
The biggest party took place at Taipei Civic Square near the Taipei 101 skyscraper, where hundreds of thousands of revelers were entertained by pop stars including A-Lin and Wu Bai (伍佰).
The highlight of the night was a fireworks display lasting 238 seconds at the Taipei 101.
A total of 20,000 fireworks were set off at the stroke of midnight, along with an unprecedented light show comprising 800 lights and special effects around the iconic tower.
Now in its 13th year, the Taipei 101 fireworks display is the most-watched New Year event in Taiwan, attracting huge crowds of onlookers keen to take part in the countdown and to enjoy the unique atmosphere of New Year's Eve in the capital.
Celebrations n Central Taiwan included an event at Janfusun Fancy World amusement park in Yunlin and one at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium,. Revelers in Southern Taiwan celebrated at E-Da World and Dream Mall in Kaohsiung.
Traffic control measures were adopted to cope with the tremendous migration of revelers.
The Taipei MRT advised passengers against trying to catch MRT trains at the City Hall and Taipei 101 World Trade Center stations after the celebrations, as these two stops at the party's epicenter would be heavily congested.
Passengers were advised to walk to other nearby stations.
MRT Ready for 3 Million
The Taipei MRT was expecting record ridership of over 3 million passengers during the 24-hour period straddling the New Year's Eve countdown celebrations.
No figures were available as of press time for the 24 hours from 6 a.m. on New Year's Eve to 6 a.m. on New Year's Day, but the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation said that as of 4 p.m. on Saturday, the number of passengers had already broken the 1 million mark.
The firm later said that ridership had notched up a significant increase after 7 p.m.
During last year's New Year's Eve countdown celebrations, the MRT transported about 3.02 million passengers in a 24-hour period — a record volume that represented an annual increase of 66,000 people.
This year, the MRT offered 42-hour nonstop service from 6 a.m. on Dec. 31 to 11:59 p.m. Jan. 1, with the exception of Xiaobitan and Xinbeitou stations. Service on the Maokong Gondola was also extended to 2 a.m. Sunday morning.
MRT trains were dispatched at shorter intervals and some of the trains did not stop at select stations. Bicycles were not allowed to be carried onto the trains after 3 p.m.
Extra personnel were deployed at all major stations to help and direct passengers during the peak hours before and after the countdown event, the metro company said.
Taipei Rapid Transit also dispatched its 16-member "Chao Tien Tuan," a chorus whose job was to sing at major stations to ease the anxiety and impatience of passengers caught in the thick crowds. The singers also handed out small gifts.
To be continued with www.chinapost.com.tw