Taipei, Feb. 16 (CNA) Long queues formed when a two-week period of free rides for individuals on the mass rapid transit (MRT) line between Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport kicked off Thursday.
Many people wanting to try the long-awaited line arrived at the line's A1 station (Taipei Main Station) early Thursday, with the first in line saying he began queuing at around 1 a.m.
To take a free ride on the airport line before commercial operations begin on March 2, passengers must obtain a numbered tag at one of the line's stations at 7:40 a.m., 9:40 a.m., 11:40 a.m. and 1:40 p.m. each day.
A total of about 20,000 numbered tags are distributed throughout the line's 21 stations each day.
As there was only one vending machine to dispense the numbered tag at each of the two distribution locations at the station, averaging five seconds per passenger, the large crowd became impatient.
Many people had to wait for more than an hour to get their tag, and they complained about the "slowness" and "inefficiency."
Some suggested that EasyCards should be allowed on the airport MRT, like the Taipei MRT.
Trains run between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the trial period, and passengers have access to all 21 stations on the 51.03-kilometer line between Taipei and Taoyuan, including the 14 stations between Taipei Main Station and Taoyuan International Airport.
At the end of the line -- A21 (Huanbei Station) -- a lot of people also waited for a test ride.
Staff of the Taoyuan Mass Transit Corp. operated the vending machine to facilitate the tag distribution to passengers, but some still complained about the long waiting times.
A check-in and bag-drop service for airport passengers is also available between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at A1 during the trial period.
China Airlines and EVA Airways have check-in counters at the Taipei MRT station, as well as their respective subsidiaries, Mandarin Airlines and Uni Airways.
Outbound travelers can now check their luggage and obtain seat assignments and boarding passes at the station about three hours before their flights' scheduled departure time.
Travelers are reminded to leave only after they are assured that their luggage has passed security checks. Otherwise, air carriers, out of flight safety considerations, will not transport the luggage to the airport.
The service is free, but some passengers, such as children under 12 years old who are traveling alone, or airline staff traveling on standby, cannot use the service.
Luggage dimensions also have some restrictions, and luggage too long or too large will not be transported. Passengers are advised to check with their carriers about luggage regulations.
(By Wang Shu-fen, Chiu Chun-chin and Lilian Wu)