Saturday, February 8, 2014

Taipei MRT Ridership by Station in 2013

Below is a list of the most heavily used MRT stations in Taipei in 2013, by the total number of boardings and alightings at each station.  The data comes from the Taipei Department of Transportation.

Taipei Main StationDanshui, Bannan114,065,000
Taipei City HallBannan47,641,000
XimenBannan, Xiaonanmen43,468,000
Zhongxiao FuxingBannan, Wenhu38,390,000
Zhongxiao DunhuaBannan29,524,000

The top seven stations remain the same as in 2012, but there's been some movement among the bottom three.  First, Banqiao continued to gain users, and overtook Jiantan to become the 7th most popular station in the system, just shy of Xinpu, which saw its ridership fall slightly.  Banqiao remains the only station opened after 2001 to be among the top 10.  In addition, Dingxi replaced Zhongshan as the 10th most popular station, presumably boosted by the Zhonghe Line's increased frequency and new direct connection to the Xinzhuang Line.  Dingxi is the 4th station in New Taipei to make the list, and the first on the Zhonghe-Xinlu Line.  Since the Dingxi area has little to attract people from outside Yonghe, Dingxi is almost certainly an origin station rather than a destination, suggesting that the Zhonghe-Xinlu Line feeds passengers into other parts of the MRT system rather than take them directly to their destination.  
As in pervious years, the Bannan Line was the dominant line in the MRT system, with 7 of the top ten stations and all of the top 5.  The Danshui Line remains the second most important, even though its share of the top ten dropped from 4 stations to 3.  The Zhonghe-Xinlu Line just broke into the top ten with one station, while the Wenhu Line only made it onto the list through its transfer station with the Bannan Line.
Below are the 10 least-used stations for 2013:

Nangang Software ParkWenhu789,000
Wanfang CommunityWenhu1,363,000
Dahu ParkWenhu1,900,000
Xianse TempleZhonghe-Xinlu2,137,000

As with the top 10, the bottom 10 are mostly the same as last year, with the exception of Touqianzhuang being replaced by Linguang.  This leaves the Wenhu Line dominating the list with 5 stations, while the Danshui and Zhonghe-Xinlu Lines are tied for second with 2 each.
Below are the average number of riders passing through all the stations on each line.  Average ridership for all stations grew by 4.8% compared to 2012.

LineAv. Exits+Entrances/Stations% Change
Zhongxiao Xinsheng
to Daqiaotou

Unsurprisingly, the Bannan Line was the most heavily used line, followed by the Danshui-Xindian Line, the Zhonghe-Xinlu Line and finally the Wenhu Line.  This reflects how many stations each line has in the top ten.  Ridership was most uneven on the Zhonghe-Xinlu Line, with the Zhonghe Line having the heaviest ridership, the trunk section of the Xinzhuang Line seeing mediocre ridership and the Luzhou and especially the Xinzhuang branches having very low ridership. The Xinzhuang Branch was the second least-used section of the MRT, followed only by the Muzha section of the Wenhu Line.
Growth was very uneven in 2013.  The largest gains in ridership were on the newest lines, with the central section of the Xinzhuang Line between Zhongxiao Xinsheng and Daqiaotou growing faster than any other section of the MRT, and Songjiang Nanjing gaining more users than any other station, followed by Xingtian Temple.  This was presumably the result of the improved connection to the Zhonghe Line, though some of the increase may also have been caused by people adjusting their travel habits to take advantage of the new line- for example, people may be more willing to take jobs near the Xinzhuang Line that they were before.
The Zhonghe Line saw the second-largest gains after the trunk section of the Xinzhuang Line, presumably from increased frequency and the faster connection to the Xinzhuang Line and east Taipei.  However, the increase was less than half that of the Xinzhuang trunk line, suggesting that the Xinzhuang Line gained more from the new connection.  The Xinzhuang and Luzhou branches also gained quite a bit of ridership compared to 2012, presumably mostly from people adjusting to the new lines.
The Wenhu Line also saw uneven growth, with the Neihu section growing faster than the system average while the Muzha section losing passengers, especially in its central Taipei section.  Even with this decline- which follows a decline last year- the Muzha Line still has much higher ridership than it did before the Neihu extension opened.
Finally, although it doesn't appear on the above chart, the central section of the Danshui Line (that is, from Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to Shuanglian) also lost ridership.  Part of this may have been caused by Zhonghe and Xindian Line passengers switching to the Xinzhuang Line to get to central and eastern Zhongshan District rather than transferring to buses at Zhongshan, Shuanglian or Minquan West Rd. stations, though the decline at NTU Hospital and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall suggest it may be caused by other factors.
Overall, trends in 2013 were positive: newer, lesser used parts of the MRT gained ridership, which balanced out losses in more heavily used sections.  However, ridership remains very uneven, with the Bannan Line connecting to far more destinations than any other line.  To even out ridership Taipei should focus on developing destinations near central areas along less heavily used sections of the MRT.  For example, developing Minquan West Rd. as a destination would attract more riders from the underused Xinzhuang and Luzhou branches, as well as from the not especially crowded Xinzhuang trunk and northern Danshui Line.


  1. You're discussing it as 'relative' ridership figures without giving reference to the actual hard-limit capacity of the trains. You say the 'not especially crowded northern Danshui Line' - is simply not true as those trains are crazy-crazy busy on evenings and weekends, and general ridership is certainly becoming crushingly uncomfortable on *all lines* in peak-to-semi peak hours (and try taking on a pushchair, bikes or how do disabled users feel?).

    The red extension late last year has helped the Banan line significantly, but the green extension cannot come fast enough. I hope that will record a significant drop in ridership [and make Zhongxiao Xinsheng not dangerously crowded at 7pm], so any analysis that this [wide scope] drop is in anyway negative, would be wrong.

    The overall Taipei MRT service remains is exemplary, but that is in jeopardy as it has a hard limit to the number of people that can be accommodated on platforms and moved - yet in the same breath (literally) - we would all benefit from more city commuters dropping smog-inducing scooters for public transport and a bit of leg work. The question remains then - does the extensions already under way in the near future (~2015/16) match to offset the heavy laden statistics above?

    1. Admittedly I don't often ride the Danshui Line north of Taipei Main during rush hour, but based on everything I've read and seen it's not actually at capacity. For one thing, last I checked Danshui Line headways go no lower than 3 minutes, compared to 2 min 5 sec on the Bannan Line, which at least suggests the MRT does not view crowding on the Danshui Line as being especially severe. There is almost certainly spare capacity north of Minquan W. Rd., seeing as more passengers board trains there and at Shuanglian and Zhongshan as they head south, and vice versa for those heading north. In my experience only the Bannan and Wenhu Lines are crowded to the point that passengers have to wait for a train to pass before they can get on. If I get a chance I'll take a trip up the Danshui Line during rush hour to take another look. The Zhonghe-Xinlu Line however certainly does not come close to full capacity, even at rush hour.
      As for stations, compared to what I've seen in New York or Beijing, Taipei's transfer stations are certainly not at the point of being dangerously overcrowded, though Zhongxiao Fuxing does feel close. Zhongxiao Xinsheng can be annoying, but the crowds usually manage to keep moving and there's usually enough space for people to move even on the narrower sections of the platform. If Zhongxiao Xinsheng does get dangerously overcrowded, perhaps the MRT could consider forcing passengers transferring from the Bannan Line to the Zhonghe-Xinlu Line to go to the mezzanine level first, and leave the direct stairways between the two platforms for passengers using the Zhonghe-Xinlu line. Or maybe there are other crowd control measures they could use. Opening the Songshan Line and cutting headways on the Xinyi Line will probably also help at both those stations.
      Crowding is uncomfortable and we don't want too much of it, but we also want the MRT to be well-used so it can cover the cost of construction and operation, and because that means fewer people are driving. It would be nice if ridership could be more evenly spread out throughout the system, but that isn't how human transportation works. Less crowding means the MRT is less able to support itself and it suggests economic decline causing fewer trips, or passengers switching to driving. I don't think it's a huge issue that the Muzha Line is losing passengers since it's very overcrowded and presumably can't fit more capacity (at the moment anyway), but AFAIK the Danshui Line can handle more trains, so I'd prefer to see its ridership remain steady, if not increase.
      As for cyclists, I don't think it's a big deal if they can't fit on the MRT, since they take up more space than regular passengers. If we have to choose between one bicyclist taking the MRT and two or three pedestrians, we should choose the latter, while accommodating the former when space allows. With the disabled, I think it depends- it might make more sense for the government to provide different transportation (subsidized taxis, on-demand bus service), but if the MRT is the best choice then perhaps room should be left aside, if crowding is indeed a problem.
      Songshan Line aside, I doubt the upcoming extensions will help much. The Circular Line is far from the most crowded sections of the MRT, and the Wanda-Zhonghe and Airport Lines will probably bring more passengers to the Danshui and Bannan Lines rather than relieve crowding. If crowding is still a problem on the Bannan Line after the Songshan and Xinyi Lines have opened a line under Ren'ai Rd. will probably be the best way to relieve it.