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September 25, 2017

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Taichung City's BRT Blue Line goes into full operation

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taichung City's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system opened its Blue Line yesterday, allowing passengers to board at the line's 20 bus stops for free for one year.

The BRT Blue Line runs between Taichung Station and Providence University with 18 stations in between. The Blue Line spans 17.2 kilometers and runs between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. Buses stop at each stop and pass each station every six minutes. The city government plans to add more vehicles during peak hours, enabling bus arrivals every three minutes.

Each bus can accommodate two foldable bicycles. Like Taipei's MRT, eating and drinking are not allowed while onboard.

While it is free to board the buses, passengers still need to swipe their pass when getting on and off buses. EasyCard (悠遊卡), Taiwan Easy Go (台灣通), iPASS (一卡通) or the ETC card are now accepted.

The BRT was first launched three weeks ago. According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), daily BRT visitor traffic count has reached 40,000. The MOTC promised to improve the system's hardware and software to make riding more enjoyable.

Huge Crowd Came to Test BRT

People gathered at each of the BRT bus stops to test the system on Sunday morning. At the Taichung Station stop, the line of people waiting reached one kilometer. It appeared that yesterday's run fell short of expectations, as people complained that the bus arrived every 15 minutes, instead of the six minutes proclaimed by the BRT system. Some waited with umbrellas to fend off the sun.

Close to 10,000 people tried the BRT system on Sunday morning, according to the Transportation Bureau of Taichung City Government.

In yesterday's test ride, some did not have a boarding pass such as EasyCard, Taiwan Easy Go, or iPASS, as required. This requirement, however, will be strictly enforced at the end of September, at the latest, said the government.

A Taichung resident surnamed Li, who tested the BRT yesterday, said that he waited for about 13 minutes before getting on the bus. There was a huge crowd waiting at every bus stop, he said, adding that people had a hard time getting on and off already crowded buses at every bus stop.

Lin Liang-tai (林良泰), the head of the Transportation Bureau, expects the BRT system to be in normal operation by September's end. With many people using the system, there is bound to be operational glitches. It similar to the scenario in Taipei's MRT system on New Year's Eve, he said.

In the future, the city government plans to operate a total of six lines, spanning 29 districts in Greater Taichung.

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