Taipei, April 20 (CNA) Railway ticket prices are set to rise, but the increase will not be too large, Transportation and Communications Minister Ho Chen Tan (賀陳旦) pledged on Thursday.
Ho Chen said the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) will submit a price adjustment proposal over the next three months, which will be based on a 2007 proposal but also take into consideration developments over the past decade.
The TRA has not increased ticket prices since 1995. A proposal was submitted in 2007, but not adopted because of the world economic downturn at that time.
Ho Chen made the remarks at a legislative committee during which legislators expressed concerns about news reports that the average fare increase will be 7.5 percent.
Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊賢) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party said that according to the TRA's 2007 proposal, which sought a price increase for every 70 kilometers, the fare for a single trip between Taoyuan and Taipei would increase by NT$17, meaning that commuters will have to pay an extra NT$800 per month.
Lin asked if the TRA plans to introduce the full fare increase in one go or in stages.
In response, Ho Chen said the TRA will take into consideration the MRT system and offer frequent travelers a discount.
Lin also expressed concern that once the TRA raises ticket prices, it will be less competitive and lose customers to the high speed rail network.
He cited the example of traveling between Taipei and Tainan on high speed rail - a ticket price of NT$1,350 for a 106-minute ride.
In comparison, the travel time on a TRA express train which can be as long as 260 minutes will cost more than NT$1,200 after price adjustment.
The TRA serves 230 million passengers a year, averaging 700,000 passengers a day, with up to 500,000 short-distance commuters.
(By Wang Shu-fen and Lilian Wu)