TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Maritime transport between Taiwan and the Matsu Islands will enter a new era as early as April next year, when the trip will be shortened to only three hours one way by fast ferries plying the route, CNA reported.
As an archipelago, Matsu can only be accessed by sea and air. However, the operation of UNI Airways, the only carrier that does the Taiwan-Matsu route, is often interrupted by thick fog. The Taima and Taima Star, the two ferries that currently ply the crossing, take eight to 10 hours one way.
The general agent of the new fast ferries operated by North & South Shipping Co, ezTravel Co, announced at a press conference on Wednesday (Dec. 1) that the high-speed ferry will be launched in the first half of April next year, offering tourists and Matsu residents a new transportation option, the report said.
The chairman of ezTravel, Chou Yun-sheng (周昀生), said that it takes only three hours for the fast ferry, which has the capacity to carry 298 passengers, to travel from Taipei Harbor to Matsu’s Nangan. The fast ferry service is expected to bring over 8,000 tourists to Matsu every month, he added.
According to North & South Shipping Chairman Chen Kai-shou (陳開壽), there will be two fast ferries providing the services, with one traveling between the various islands of Matsu and the other sailing between Taiwan and Matsu. Both ships were built in Singapore, costing a total of over NT$500 million (US$18 million), the report said.
Each ship measures 49 meters in length and 8.5 m in width, weighs 497 tons, and travels at a maximum speed of 76 kph.
According to information released by ezTravel, the fast ferry will provide three to four weekly routes, with tickets selling for NT$1,700, per CNA.