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September 24, 2017

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Luzhou MRT line officially launched

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Luzhou Line of the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system was officially inaugurated yesterday, with President Ma Ying-jeou claiming at the opening ceremony that the new line will turn the city's MRT system into one of the world's elite networks by increasing annual volume to over 500 million passenger boardings.

Ma and Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin took the new line bound for Luzhou at 10:18 a.m. at Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station, while Premier Wu Den-yih and incumbent Taipei County Magistrate Chou Hsi-wei boarded a train bound for Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station at Luzhou Station at 10:15 a.m.

Both groups arrived at 10:25 a.m. at Daqiaotou Station, the midpoint of the Luzhou Line on the border between Taipei City and Taipei County, where the inauguration ceremony was held. Crowds cheered as the four jointly activated a device to mark the inauguration of the new MRT line.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Ma said, "We've moved from the Minor League to the Major League," referring to the threshold of 500 million passenger boardings required to become a member of CoMET, a benchmarking group composed of the world's biggest metro systems. The Taipei MRT is currently part of the "Nova" international benchmarking group that covers small- to medium-sized metro systems.

In 2009, total annual passenger boardings on the Taipei MRT system reached 462.5 million, and the new line is expected to handle an average of 170,000 passenger-trips a day, or another 62 million more people per year.

Ma said that Taipei City and Taipei County could immediately enjoy the same service level as metropolitan rail systems in cities such as New York, London, Mexico City, and Paris.

On the same occasion, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin extended thanks to all those who contributed to the completion of the Luzhou Line, and promised that the new line would greatly enhance the quality of life in the Greater Taipei area, namely Taipei City and the future Xinbei City (now Taipei County).

Hau said the new line would more efficiently move the large numbers of people expected to visit the 2010 Taipei International Flora Expo to open on Nov. 6, by reducing transportation and crowd congestion.

Passengers with EasyCards will be allowed to travel on the line for free until Dec. 2.

Construction on the 12.5-kilometer Luzhou line began in 2002 when Ma served as Taipei mayor. It connects the capital with Luzhou and Sanchong cities in Taipei County, on the west side of Danshui River.

In related news, a group of officials from four southeast European countries yesterday attended a special workshop in Taipei to learn from Taipei City on how to manage a MRT network in a metropolitan area, according to Vice Foreign Minister Shen Su-tsun.

Shen said that a total of 11 officials responsible for public transportation in the capitals of Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania and Croatia were participating in the workshop, which is focused on the management and operations of Taipei's MRT system.

The program has been organized in cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), according to Shen.

They also indicated they wanted to study the ins and outs of the EasyCard — a stored value card used to pay bus and subway fares in the Taipei system.

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