TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—Taiwan southern city's Kaohsiung Circular Light Rail Transit (高雄環狀輕軌) will become the metropolis third light rail line that will connect all of its different rail networks and significantly boost Metro Rapid Transit (MRT) ridership.
The Kaohsiung Circular Light Rail Transit will become the first “mobile landmark” of the city to connect its MRT, Taiwan Railway, and High Speed Rail system.
One of the aims of the new light rail transit is making the city greener, reduce traffic congestion, cut carbon footprint, and clean up air pollution by changing local citizens’ commuting habits of being highly dependent on personal scooters and cars to embracing rail transport.
Another goal of the new rail infrastructure is to stimulate local tourism and raise The Koahsiung Circular Light Rail Transit ridership to 4 million to generate an annual tourism income of NT$11.3 billion (US$372.2 million).
The tourism income estimations by the local government are based on other new tourism infrastructure constructions that will be finished shortly after the launch of the new rail line.
The Kaohsiung Circular Light Rail Transit stations will reach Kaohsiung’s Asia New Bay Area (亞洲新灣區), Kaohsiung Exhibition Center (高雄展覽館), and Kaohsiung Public Library (高雄市立圖書館).
According to the Kaohsiung City Mass Rapid Transit Company (KRMT) the light rail is constructed in two phases, and builders are close to finishing the first phase of the project, which includes eight stations. KRMT has started second phase of the light rail constructions.
The light rail line will be a tourism rail route that runs through the city center, and around other important sightseeing areas including Kaohsiung Multifunctional Commerce and Trade Park (多功能經貿園區), The Pier-2 Art Center (駁二藝術特區), and Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (美術館園區).
KRMT estimates the light rail transit will be in operations after three years, and will increase Kaohsiung’s current MRT ridership by 53 percent.
It took the KMRT nine years before the city’s MRT line became profitable, so the business model of the new light rail will present a new challenge for the company.
However, KMRT officials were optimistic the light rail line ticket prices would be sufficient enough to make it profitable.
The Kaohsiung Circular Light Rail Transit will also be changing local road user habits since it will lack protective walls to prevent collisions between pedestrians, cars, scooters with the trains.
At least four traffic accidents occurred during the one-year pilot project of the light rail train because pedestrians, cars or scooters did not give way to trains.
The Kaohsiung city government hopes the new light rail line will help locals develop better road user habits and let the light transit rail pass first at cross roads and other intersections.