Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Taipei MRT Will Implement Different Routes After 11PM

If you pay attention to the posters in Taipei's MRT, you've probably noticed that the MRT's routing will be rearranged when the Xinyi Line opens sometime over the next month.  Specifically, the current Beitou-Taipower Building line will separate from the Danshui-Xindian Line at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and run along the new Xinyi Line, while the Xiaonanmen Line will be extended from Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall south to Taipower Building.  The routing in the MRT's original plan was a bit simpler, with the Xiaonanmen and Xindian Lines becoming one line, while the Danshui Line would be extended along the Xinyi Line.  This routing would have let the Xinyi Line run at full capacity, but it would also force Xindian Line passengers bound for stations on the Danshui Line to transfer, so the more complicated routing was chosen.
Now the MRT has announced that the Xinyi Line's route will change after 11PM.  To avoid having too many trains traveling on the elevated section of the Danshui Line and disturbing nearby residents, after 11 the Xinyi Line will terminate at Taipei Main Station.  The idea (I think) is that both the Xinyi Line and the whole of the Danshui-Xindian Line will run at 12 minute headways, but if they merged the headways would shrink to 6 minutes.
If this is the case, it means that once the Xinyi Line opens, service on the Danshui Line will actually be worse than it is now.  Now the section of the Danshui Line between Taipower Building and Beitou has 6 minute headways after 11PM, with this new routing headways will go up to 12 minutes- not a small difference.  Moreover, having two different routings is confusing- navigating a mass transit system should be as intuitive as possible; having two routings for different times of day will require riders to pay extra attention.  While I'm usually sympathetic to quality of life issues, it does strike me as a double standard: the MRT is very sensitive to noise complaints despite not being especially loud, but neither the Taipei nor the New Taipei governments seem interested in quieting down scooters, and New Taipei sometimes even does road construction late at night to avoid disrupting traffic.  Furthermore, there has been a rail line along the same route as the Danshui Line for nearly 100 years now, so it is worth asking why people who are bothered by the sound of trains moved there in the first place.


  1. This is actually not a service reduction. Currently, Beitou-Taipower Building trains are also cut back to Taipei Main Station-Taipower Building after 11PM. This operation pattern has actually been in place since the Beitou-Nanshijiao days.

    I agree that the residents along MRT lines are often irrational about train noise (noise complaints are also responsible for the current pathetic state of the Xinbeitou branch), but it's worth considering that the old Danshui rail line was running twice-hourly service at most, which is a rather far cry from the 3-minute headways during rush hour nowadays.

  2. I actually never noticed that any trains terminate at Taipei Main after 11, probably because I'm always headed south after that time. The MRT's website certainly doesn't make it clear, though the webpages for stations north of Taipei Main do note that after 11pm headways are 12 minutes. It did occur to me after writing this that the TRA's Danshui Line probably didn't run as late or often as the MRT, so perhaps I shouldn't have been so critical. On the other hand, there is still a double standard in terms of people having a high tolerance for loud scooters and construction.
    I find the poor service on the Xin Beitou line particularly annoying, given that they may have otherwise terminated trains there rather than force everyone to transfer at Beitou.