|From Taoyuan County's Bureau of Transportation|
The planned Green Line of the Taoyuan MRT was approved by the Environmental Protection Administration this past week, paving the way for its construction to begin next year, for completion in 2021 at the earliest. The Green Line, also called the Aerotropolis Line, will run roughly perpendicular to the TRA's Main Line, linking Dayuan, Luzhu, Taoyuan City, Bade and the planned Aerotropolis development near Taoyuan Airport. It will connect with the Airport Line as well as the TRA at Taoyuan Station. It will be 27.8km long with 21 stations and cost NT$98.9 billion ($US3.3 billion) to build (US$118.7 million/km), 35% of which will be paid by the central government, with the rest covered by the county and paid for through operational profit and returns on land acquired through eminent domain. The Taoyuan County government estimates it will ridden about 200,000 times daily (some reports claim 500,000 but this seems unrealistic).
To get the plan passed the Taoyuan County government promised to decrease the amount of public land it would appropriate around three stations by 95%, effecting only 7 residences of the 147 in the original plan. This would leave one station, at the intersection of Zhongzheng and Minguang Roads, without any exits, though the county still plans to build the station in the hope that further discussions with property owners will lead to a breakthrough. (They claim it would be used by 20,000 commuters a day- between 10 and 15 million exits and entrances a year). The government also promised to use the same strict standards when appropriating land for stations within the Aerotropolis, and to take steps to protect nearby historic sites and to minimize traffic disruption.
In terms of building a mass transit network in Taoyuan this line makes a lot of sense- it follows the most built-up corridor in Taoyuan County, complements the TRA and will improve mass transit for the most people in the most efficient way possible. Furthermore, unlike in Taichung and Kaohsiung, Taoyuan residents already have a propensity to use mass transit- in fact Taoyuan's mass transit mode share is higher than either despite not having any MRT lines. I think this is less because of "habit" and more because of the narrow, unplanned streets that make driving difficult, in addition to large numbers of people who commute to Taipei, which for many people is probably cheaper and easier to do by mass transit than by driving.
It's also good to see that the government is being more respectful of people's property rights, though it's hard to tell if this one case really means anything. Also, because the MRT line is a public service that can't be relocated or built by the private sector alone this is a situation where eminent domain is more forgivable, in contrast to eminent domain for the sake of development, such as with the Aerotropolis.
Finally, this is the first time that I know of that an MRT line has been build under a narrow street in Taiwan, and I'm curious to see how it will turn out. As you can see from the image below, at the intersection where there will be a station with no exits, building exits will be impossible without taking private land. I hope they replace the parking space with some sidewalks though:
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