COMPASS MAGAZINE > November 2013

Taichung BRT enables 'one-hour living circle', stimulates local real estate market
Perspective drawing of G3

Taichung BRT enables 'one-hour living circle', stimulates local real estate market

Article provided by Sunny FM
Translated by Angel Pu
Photos provided by Taichung Real Estate Development Association

Following the Taichung city-county merger in 2010, Greater Taichung City has become an important transportation hub linking northern and southern Taiwan. Taichung Mayor Jason Hu says that the city's foremost goal is to develop a comprehensive transit network made up of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), TRA elevated light railway and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, together with a supporting bus system and "I-Bike" program. The completion of this network will provide significant stimulation to central Taiwan's economy and tourism, as well as the real estate sector.

Thanks to the hosting of the FIABCI's 64th annual real estate congress in Taichung earlier this year--the first time it has been held in the non-capital city of a member state--and successful promotions supported by Mayor Hu and Taichung Real Estate Development Association Chairwoman Lily Chang, Taichung has drawn much closer to the outside world, which has started to witness this city's "soft power". The next step is to now develop a better and more complete transit system, which will also stimulate the real estate market. The Green Line is already under construction and other areas that will enjoy MRT service in the future will also undoubtedly become top choices for residents looking for homes.

Taichung City Transportation Bureau Director Lin Liang-tay says that one of the most crucial elements for an international city is its transportation system, noting that a complete network not only allows international visitors to easily travel to different parts of the city with their luggage but also reduces their expenses.

Lin provides a supporting analogy: A complete transportation system is like the circulatory system of a human body. You need clean, freely-flowing major arteries, respresented by the city's major transit systems, such as the MRT, elevated railways and BRT, while the veins are the eight-kilometer free bus system, connecting various modes of transportation. And, like Taipei's U-Bike program, Taichung's own I-Bike initiative will go online by the middle of next year at the earliest. When the system is completed, both local and international visitors and residents will be able to enjoy a convenient Taichung public transit system.

BRT, or Bus Rapid Transit, is a bus-based transit system that runs on a bus-only path set along a city's regular roadways. If linked effectively with an intelligent system, it resembles a bus transit system, but without the possibilities of delays. The BRT route on Taiwan Boulevard is nearing completion, and future passengers will need to swipe stored-value cards when boarding and alighting from buses. Every exquisitely-designed BRT station will be based on a Taiwan White Dolphin concept/theme.

BRT buses will have a maximum capacity of 110 to 140 people and will run from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. every three to six minutes. Fare-collection methods will be is varied, including a one-way token like the Taipei MRT system uses, and stored-value cards such as Easycard, I Pass Card, Taiwan Smart Card, and ETC. Of course it has 8-kilometer free ride, just like the bus system.

Six routes--Blue, Orange, Purple, Brown, Yellow, and Gold--are planned. Blue Line stations will go into partial "soft operation" by the end of this year with the next open section, from the railway station to Providence University, opening by next March at the earliest. Besides Taiwan Boulevard's Blue Line, the five other routes are as follows--Purple Line: Circle between Taiping, Dali and Wufeng; Orange Line: Ching Chuang Kang Airport– Daya – Dali and Wufeng; Brown Line: Beitun-Wufeng and Houli; Yellow Line (Mountain Area Line): Daan – Houli; Gold Line: Shenggang and Fengyuan – Heping and Xinshe. These routes cover Taichung's 29 districts, putting them all within one hour's travel time.

Lin notes that according to a survey done by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the satisfaction rate regarding Taipei city's transportation has reached 91.8%, the highest in Taiwan. However, he points out with some satisfaction that Taichung--which hasn't even launched an MRT system yet--has the second-highest satisfaction rating, even higher than Kaohsiung city. This affirms the city government's decision to launch an eight-kilometer free-ride bus program as well as BRT and MRT systems. The overall result of all this will be an increasingly convenient Taichung transportation network.

Sketch of Greater Taichung's planned BRT network
Sketch of Greater Taichung's planned BRT network

Diagram of the growth of the number of Taichung city bus passengers
Diagram of the growth of the number of Taichung city bus passengers