Thursday, October 4, 2012

First Impressions of the Zhonghe-Xinlu Line

The Taipei MRT has declared the connection between the Zhonghe Line and Xinlu Line a success, with transfers down 20% at Taipei Main and up 70% and 500% at Zhongxiao Xinsheng and Guting, respectively, on the first half-day of weekday operation.  After taking the new MRT connection several times this past week I want to add a few of my own observations.
Most notable for those who use the Zhonghe Line is that trains between Nanshijiao and Guting are far less crowded, and the wait is never long.  This is a result of doubling the number of trains on the Zhonghe Line. 
Currently more people appear to get off northbound trains at Guting than stay on or get on, suggesting that there are still more people headed for stations on the Danshui Line than stations on the Xinlu Line or eastern section of the Bannan Line.  This in turn suggests that the number of people inconvenienced by the transfer at Guting outweighs the number of people who benefit from faster access to East Taipei.  However, I think this is outweighed by the benefits of less crowding and shorter wait times.  Also, as time goes on more and more people will probably adjust their commutes to take advantage of the faster connection.
Third, although the transfer at Guting isn’t timed (which is disappointing), about half the time Xindian Line and Zhonghe Line trains do arrive roughly at the same time, and when they do they give passengers plenty of time to transfer.  Props to the MRT for good customer service.
Transferring at Zhongxiao Xinsheng is much easier than at Taipei Main; in fact I would say it is the second-easiest transfer in the whole MRT system after Guting.  It also isn’t as crowded as Taipei Main, and despite fears about overcrowding the Bannan Line platforms don’t feel dangerous despite being narrower than the Xinlu Line platforms.  However, because the connection between the two platforms takes passengers to the northern end of the Xinlu Line, passengers transferring to southbound Xinlu Line trains tend to crowd into the back end of the train, while the front is almost empty.
For those headed to east Taipei, I found that the new connection takes about 5 to 6 minutes from Guting to Zhongxiao Xinsheng, compared to about 12 to 13 minutes before.  This means that even Xindian Line passengers will find transferring at both Guting and Zhongxiao Xinsheng faster than just transferring at Taipei Main.


  1. The biggest problem is Zhongxiao Fuxing Station. Imagine, if you live in Yonghe/Zhonghe and your job is in Neihu, lets say near Jiannan Station. It took me 15 min to reach from Xinsheng to Fuxing Station, the lines for the Wenlu Line at Fuxing are crazy long. Same is true every evening, Fuxing is too small to handle so many people (I guess there was no long term planning here). They have security blocking people from going down to the platforms, because there is just not enough space. This has for me become the worst station of all the MRT and it's all because it crosses with Wenlu Line, which is for me the worst of all lines. Xinsheng has a very generous platform for Nanshijiao, so most people fill that area and the crowd at blue line is still acceptable, but it tends to be too crowded as well. If this is the trade-off for less crowding at the main station, then it's not a good bargain. I hope that with the Xinyi and Songshan lines next December this issue will be solved.

  2. It is a little weird that the platforms at Zhongxiao Xinsheng are so narrow, though they seem to be trying to avoid that mistake in the Xinzhuang Line stations. The real problem is that the Bannan Line is overcrowded and they need more east-west lines. My guess is the Xinyi Line will take off some pressure, but they should also consider another east-west line closer to the Bannan Line, perhaps by extending the airport line east from Taipei Main under Ren'ai Rd. or even Chang'an Rd., or maybe by building an elevated line under Shimin Blvd. Light rail lines would also help. Ideally there would have been a TRA station at Fuxing Rd. too, but that might be impossible now.
    I actually think the Songshan Line will only help a little, since it's fairly far from the places served by the Bannan Line.