Kaohsiung Light Rail Commences Trial Runs／輕軌初體驗5驚喜
Kaohsiung Light Rail Commences Trial Runs
◎English translation: Hou Ya-ting
◎Photos by Kao Jhih-hung, Chang Chien,Ying-hao
Kaohsiung's light rail system began trial runs on October 16, and throughout the trial period all journeys are free of charge. During this free-travel period, passengers who hold an iPASS, a stored-value card issued by iPASS Corporation, are encouraged to swipe their cards when using the light rail so as to qualify for four lucky draws which will be held between now and January 15.
Once the light rail begins normal operations, riders will be able to swipe their iPASS cards at machines on station platforms or inside the carriages. Alternatively, passengers will be able to purchase single-journey tickets from vending machines on the platforms. From time to time, inspectors will board trams and examine tickets.
The carriages have four doors per side, and each door is 1.3m wide, giving passengers plenty of room to get on and off. When the trams stop at stations, the doors do not open automatically; passengers need to press a button to open the door so they can embark or disembark. The light rail system incorporates obstacle-detection devices. If a door is jammed, or unable to close because of an obstacle, the tram will not move until the problem is resolved. This device ensures the safety of passengers.
The light rail's planners have gone into meticulous detail to guarantee the entire system is user-friendly. The distance between the platform and carriage floors is just 35cm, so getting on and off is easy for both senior citizens and young children. There are wheelchair ramps on both sides of every platform. When the trams stop at a station, the doors open at platform level; there is no step to climb. There are no gangway doors between carriages, so passengers can move easily from one part of the tram to another. The barrier-free environment means the light-rail system will be easily accessible for elderly, pregnant, preschool and physically challenged passengers.
The interior design takes into account common physiques, public transportation customs, passenger capacity, and traveling distance. Seats, handrails and straps have been positioned so each tram can carry up to 250 passengers. Furthermore, each tram will have two areas for wheelchairs, baby carriages, bicycles and shopping trolleys. These locations are equipped with wheelchair-passenger seatbelts and handrails to enhance passengers' safety.
When regular operations begin, trams will be available every seven-and-a-half minutes during peak hours, and every fifteen minutes at other times. Normal speeds will be 20 to 25 kilometers per hour. At each station, carriages will recharge their batteries for 30 seconds, then proceed to the next stop. Unlike other tram systems around the world, Kaohsiung's light rail has no overhead or catenary wires.