Taipei, Dec. 7 (CNA) A new pricing scheme for the Taipei MRT system will replace the universal 20 percent discount on adult fare by rewarding frequent passengers with a bigger discount, its operator said Saturday.
According to Taipei Rapid Transit Corp. (TRTC), which runs the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), the new program will offer different discount rates to subway passengers based on how often they use the system.
Those riding the MRT for 51 times or more per month will get a 30 percent cut on their total ticket fare, the biggest discount offered, with the reward to be transacted back to their electronic cards the following month when they pass an MRT gate, the company said.
Passengers who take the service between 41-50 times could get a 25 percent discount, while those riding the trains for 31-40, 21-30 and 11-20 times each month will get a discount of 20 percent, 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
The new scheme, which could be implemented as early as February, will be more fair to frequent users while also encouraging people to make more use of the system, the company said.
The reward, which has to be charged through an MRT gate within six months after a passenger's last swipe, could be used in the same way as money stored in an electronic Easy Card, it said.
There's no need to purchase a new MRT card or register one's identity and anyone using the system can enjoy the benefits, regardless of which station they embark or disembark at, the company said.
Under the new plan, however, passengers must use the same electronic card each time to accumulate enough rides to enjoy the discounts, TRTC said. It encouraged the public to register their cards at station information kiosks, to prevent users missing out on the discounts if they lose their cards.
Meanwhile, other existing pricing schemes -- including discount fares for senior citizens and children, as well as for bus transits -- remain unchanged.
The company said that there will be a one-month trial before the new program is launched, and that during this period, the current 20 percent off discount will still be in effect.
According to TRTC data, half of its passengers ride the MRT between 31-40 times per month, meaning that they could still enjoy the existing benefit of a 20 percent discount after the the new pricing scheme begins.
The new plan is expected to generate about NT$300 million (US$9.8 million) per year due to increased ridership, or an additional 2 percent of its current revenue, the company said.
TRTC was previously considering adopting a fare adjustment that would give a greater-than-current discount to only people who take the system for 40 times or more every month.
Facing complaints about the potential fare hike at the time, the company argued that while its operation costs continue to increase following expansion of the network in recent years, it has never raised the ticket price since it began operating the subway system in 1996.
The discounts offered have amounted to a cumulated total of NT$42.4 billion (US$1.37 billion) as of last year, TRTC added.