Ministry should negotiate ticket price with THSR: CF
By Joy Lee ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Consumers' Foundation (CF) yesterday demanded the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to negotiate with Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) to put a halt to increasing the price for train tickets.
August 17, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
The THSR passed a proposal to increase ticket prices by 9.69 percent at a board meeting earlier this month, with the price of a return Taipei-Kaohsiung ticket possibly facing increases of up to NT$280. According to the firm, the price adjustment might be implemented as soon as October.
The MOTC said earlier this month that it will respect the THSR's decision on whether to raise ticket prices.
The CF said that the MOTC should not put the public's interests behind the profits of THSR.
“THSR has already been making profits and it is a monopoly,” said CF Secretary-General Lei Li-fen (雷立芬), “so there is actually no urgency in raising ticket prices.”
The CF said that according to THSR's 2012 financial report, the firm's annual profit was around NT$3.5 billion after tax.
Under THSR's contract with the MOTC, the CF said, the basic rate for train tickets is allowed to be increased by a maximum of 20 percent when the past three years' consumer price index is higher than 3 percent.
“However,” Lei said, “if the government cannot guarantee that everyone receives a raise when the past three years' consumer price index is higher than 3 percent, the THSR should not enjoy this benefit, either.”
“Even though the MOTC said that high-speed rail ticket prices have remained unchanged for more than six years, which has left the firm unable to cover its costs,” Lei said, “the average wage level in the past decade actually decreased. Therefore, the government should not make its policy to solely benefit big cooperates.”
CF Chairman Mark Chang (張智剛) said that if the THSR wishes to increase the firm's profit, it should come up with solutions to raise the amount of passengers traveling during off-peak hours instead of increasing the ticket rates.
The company had originally decided to raise prices last year but later changed its plans. The proposal also met opposition from Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) in March this year. Yeh promised to freeze high-speed rail ticket prices until September.
MOTC Demands Greater Discounts
The MOTC said that the ministry will respect the THSR's decision to raise the ticket rates, but the firm should provide more discounted “early bird” train tickets.
According to the MOTC, the THSR's ticket rate adjustment proposal is still under review by the transportation authority. However, the MOTC said, according to the contract signed by the ministry and the firm, the MOTC cannot intervene in the THSR's decision on adjusting ticket rates.
The Bureau of High Speed Rail (BHSR) said that the THSR should launch more discount plans for passengers to choose from, like increasing the amount of 35-percent-off “early bird” tickets.
The BHSR also said that the THSR can schedule more discounted plans targeting disadvantaged groups, which can allow more people to enjoy the services of the firm