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Kaohsiung mayor touts MRT system's coziness, convenience

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan -- Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu took a ride on the Red Line of the city's mass rapid transit (MRT) system yesterday, the third day the system was open for free test rides before its formal inauguration later this year.

Accompanied by several municipal officials during her ride from station R8 in the bustling Sando commercial district to Kaihsuan station R5, Chen lauded the coziness and convenience of the mass rapid transit service.

"Although the train carriages swing mildly, the ride is generally comfortable and convenient," Chen said, expressing her hope that the system will win praise and support from commuters.

She also touted the MRT system's avant-garde design, sleekness, bright ambience and spacious stations, saying it will provide a new mode of transport services for city dwellers.

The mayor also promised to push Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp. (KRTC) to speed up preparatory work to get the system ready for formal commercial operations as early as possible.

The Red Line opened for free test rides Friday as part of the city's Lunar New Year celebrations. More than 220,000 residents in the southern port city had ridden on the system over the past three days, KRTC officials said.

The test rides will continue until Monday with an average of 350 trains operated per day, or one train every four minutes, the officials said.

"As city residents have long awaited the opening of the new transport system, the test ride has received enthusiastic response, with every train carriage jammed with passengers anxious to get a taste of the system," said a KRTC official.

The system was originally scheduled for inauguration on Lunar New Year's Day, which fell on Feb. 7 this year. According to city government sources, the exact opening day cannot be set until after the Ministry of Transportation and Communications completes field inspections.

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