During my stay in Kaohsiung, the Rapid Transit System (RTS) or “高雄都會區大眾捷運系統" is the major means of transportation in the Metro area.
The Rapid Transit System is consisted of two services:
- Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) or “高運量系統"
- Circular Light Rail (LRT) or “環狀輕軌"
Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) – “高運量系統"
Launched in March 2008 and currently have two lines in service: the Red Line and the Orange Line running from North to South and East to West respectively. Construction of the third line: the Blue Line is in progress and scheduled to be completed by 2018.
Circular Light Rail (LRT) – “環狀輕軌"
Launched November 2017 and currently only phase I (The Harbour Line) of the Green Line is in service. The remaining portion of the Circular Light Rail is targeted to be completed by 2019.
Despite the history of the Kaohsiung Metro train services is relatively short, there are some interesting facts that I can share with you.
Metro Services Operation Time
Schedule for first and last train of the services are:
- MRT: 06:00 till 00:00 of mid-night
- LRT: 07:00 till 22:00
Estimated travel time:
- MRT Red Line: 48 minutes
- MRT Orange Line: 23 minutes
- LRT: 30 minutes
Metro Services Fares
Fares for the Kaohsiung MRT is based on the distance travelled. It ranges from NTD 20 to a maximum of NTD 60 and remember to check the fare map at the station. The ticket will be valid within the same day of purchase.
For LRT, a fixed fare at NTD 30 is charged for riding between the Hamasen Station and the Lizihnei Station. The ticket will be valid for a duration of one hour.
The above ticket pricing schemes apply to cash only. Discount up to 15% off the published fares will be provided for all the valid e-Ticketing services like iPASS and EasyCash, etc. Since these e-Ticketing services provide a wide varieties of other add-on services/discount, I would suggest to get one from the Information Counter or any convenience stores while staying in Kaohsiung even you are a tourist.
Languages used in train broadcast services
Four languages/dialects are commonly used in the Kaohsiung metro services.
- Hakka dialect
- Taiwanese Hokkien.
In some stations along the Red Lines like the Formosa Boulevard Station and the Kaohsiung International Airport Station, Japanese is also used in the transfer notification broadcast to assist Japanese travellers.
Special Train Stations
There are a total of 24 and 14 stations for the Red Line and the Orange Line respectively. For LRT, there are a total of 14 stations as the time of writing.
I have been to Kaohsiung many times and there are a number of stations that you should visit.
Formosa Boulevard Station (MRT)
This is the transfer station for the Red and the Orange lines. Major attractions are:
The Prayer – Four glass curtain sructures built on top of the four Entrances/Exits of the station. They resemble people coming all over to pray for peace.
Dome of Light – Located at the ceiling of the first basement concourse. This is the world’s largest public art created by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata. It consists of a 30-metres in diameter circular ceiling built from pieces of coloured glasses.
The Formosa Boulevard Station has been ranked as the second most beautiful metro stations in the world by an US travel site.
Besides the these two landmarks, there is a coffee shop located at the same basement that you should try, the Apeuls Coffee 雅裴詩咖啡.
Coffee is really nice but the huge and attractive 3D drawing outside the shop will definitely steal your attention.
Central Park Station (MRT)
The Central Park Station got its name from the nearly Central Park. It is located on the Red Line and was designed by British Architect Richard Rogers.
Being next to the Central Park, it is very common to see lot of people having outdoor activities like family gathering, picnic and cycling.
During Sunday (the day when I was there), busking events will also be held for the public as well.
Surrounding those long escalators to the lobby/concourse are large number of plants and grasses – Vivid colours of yellow and green.
The Central Park Station has also been ranked as the fourth most beautiful metro stations in the world by the same US travel site.
Dayi Pier-2 Station (LRT)
The Dayi Pier-2 Station (and the Pinglai Pier-2 Station as well) is built along the Pier-2 Art Centre. An open design is adopted for the station without any fence or similar protection/separation. Passengers can get on and off the LRT easily and this should serve as a convenient means of travel within various zones of the Pier-2 Art Centre.
Cianjhen Star Station (LRT)
Frankly speaking, the Cianjhen Star Station is just like other LRT stations normally found along the line. What makes it so special is the Cianjhen Star Bike Bridge adjacent to the station.
The Cianjhen Star Bike Bridge is the second bicycle bridge in Kaohsiung. You may click here for my visit to the first one, the Cueihua Bike Bridge.
During my last bike ride around Taiwan in 2015, my team had ridden over the bike bridge to bypass the busy traffic of the Kaisyuan 4th Road and the Zhongshan 3rd Road.
Arrangement for Carrying Bicycle
Kaohsiung was featured by CNN in 2010 as one of the top cycling cities in Asia. There are a lot of bike friendly setup available to the riders. Carrying bicycle in the metro services is one of the convenient features that I treasured.
During my first group ride with my family and friends in Kaohsiung, we needed to return to the hotel safely during the peak traffic period. We have boarded the MRT together with our bikes from the Yanchengpu Station to the Martial Art Stadium Station.
Here are what we needed to do for carrying bike in MRT:
- Carry our bikes using elevators only
- Get tickets for ourselves
- Buy bicycle ticket at the Information Counter for each of our bikes
- At a discounted price of NTD 60 per bike, the fare is on a per trip basis and is independent of the distance/stations travelled
- The counter staff will tie/staple the bicycle ticket to the bike and lead you through the gate via assigned pathway
One more point, dimension of the bike should be within 120cm in height, 180cm in length and 70cm in width.
At the platform, the rule for carrying bikes are:
- Bikes are only allowed to be taken onboard the first cabin of the train
- Only one bike for each of the vertical handrail of the train door is allowed and this means only a maximum of four bikes per train
- The bike should be parked next to the vertical handrail and be perpendicular to the train’s operation direction
Safe and convenient. 👍👍👍
The above rules only apply to normal bikes. Foldable bikes (of course, in folded manner) can be carried in the train without any issue.
For LRT, currently only foldable bikes in folded manner are allowed to be carried.
Whereas, for MRT service in Taipei, more stringent rules are in place in view of its much higher metro usage. Bikes are only allowed to board the train if:
- 10:00 to 16:00 during weekdays
- 06:00 to end of train service on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays
- All MRT stations except the Wenhu Line and other seven designated stations
- Bikes must be placed in the first and last cabins of the train next to the vertical handrail of the doors
- Two bikes per vertical handrail are allowed and a total of 16 bikes per train
- Other rules are similar to those in Kaohsiung MRT
Mascots – K.R.T. Girls
After sharing these hard facts, let’s take a look at something that is more interesting – The K.R.T. Girls (高捷少女), mascots of the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit services.
K.R.T. Girls were first introduced since 2014 and currently have four animated characters:
- Xiaoqiong (小穹) – a station worker at the Yanchengpu Station
- Emilia (艾米莉亞) – a train driver
- Ann (婕兒) – a train mechanic
- Nana (耐耐) – a Vocaloid-powered train announcer
Since the concept introduction, the K.R.T. Girls have help to promote the metro services and generate a large amount of revenue through the sales of related merchandise.