The Taipei Metro is one of the most expensive rapid transit systems ever constructed, with phase one of the system costing US$18 billion and phase two estimated to have cost US$13.8 billion.
Proposal and construction
The initial network plan approved by the Executive Yuan in 1986
The idea of constructing the Taipei Metro was first put forth at a press conference on June 28, 1968, where the Minister of Transportation and Communications Sun Yun-suan announced his ministry's plans to begin researching the possibility of constructing a rapid transit network in the Taipei metropolitan area; however, the plan was shelved due to fiscal concerns and the belief that such a system was not urgently needed at the time. With the increase of traffic congestion accompanying economic growth in the 1970s, the need for a rapid transit system became more pressing. In February 1977, the Institute of Transportation (IOT) of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) released a preliminary rapid transport system report, with the designs of five lines, including U1, U2, U3, S1, and S2, to form a rough sketch of the planned corridors, resulting in the first rapid transit system plan for Taipei.
In 1981, the IOT invited British Mass Transit Consultants (BMTC) and China Engineering Consultants, Inc. to form a team and provide in-depth research on the preliminary report. In 1982, the Taipei City Government commissioned National Chiao Tung University to do a research and feasibility study on medium-capacity rapid transit systems. In January 1984, the university proposed an initial design for a medium-capacity rapid transit system in Taipei City, including plans for Wenhu line and Tamsui–Xinyi line of the medium-capacity metro system. On March 1, 1985, the Executive Yuan Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) signed a treaty with the Taipei Transit Council (TTC), composed of three American consultant firms, to do overall research on a rapid transit system in metropolitan Taipei. Apart from adjustments made to the initial proposal, Wenhu line of the medium-capacity metro system was also included into the network. In 1986, the initial network design of the Taipei Metro by the CEPD was passed by the Executive Yuan, although the network corridors were not yet set. A budget of NT$441.7 billion was allocated for the project.
On June 27, 1986, the Preparatory Office of Rapid Transit Systems was created, which on February 23, 1987 was formally established as the Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) for the task of handling, planning, design, and construction of the system. Apart from preparing for the construction of the metro system, DORTS also made small changes to the metro corridor. The 6 lines proposed on the initial network were: Tamsui Line and Xindian Line (Lines U1 and U2), Zhonghe Line (Line U3), Nangang Line and Banqiao Line (Line S1), and Muzha (now Wenhu) Line (Wenhu line medium-capacity), totaling 79 stations and 76.8 km (47.7 mi) route length, including 34.4 km (21.4 mi) of elevated rail, 9.5 km (5.9 mi) at ground level, and 44.2 km (27.5 mi) underground. The Neihu Line corridor was approved later in 1990. On June 27, 1994, the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation (TRTC) was formed to oversee the operation of the Taipei Metro system.
The Executive Yuan approved the initial network plan for the system on May 27, 1986. Ground was broken and construction began on December 15, 1988. The growing traffic problems of the time, compounded by road closures due to TRTS construction led to what became popularly known as the "dark age of Taipei traffic". The TRTS was the center of political controversy during its construction and shortly after the opening of its first line in 1996 due to incidents such as computer malfunction during a thunderstorm, alleged structural problems in some elevated segments, budget overruns, and fare prices.
2004 official map as seen in the annual report
The system opened on March 28, 1996, with the 10.5 km (6.5 mi) elevated Wenhu line, a driverless, medium-capacity line with twelve stations running from Zhongshan Junior High School to Taipei Zoo. The first high-capacity line, the Tamsui–Xinyi line, began service on March 28, 1997, running from Tamsui to Zhongshan, then extended to Taipei main station at the end of the year. On December 23, 1998, the system passed the milestone of 100 million passengers.
On December 24, 1999, a section of the Bannan line was opened between Longshan Temple and Taipei City Hall. This section became the first east-west line running through the city, connecting the two previously completed north-south lines. On May 31, 2006, the second stage of the Banqiao–Nangang section and the Tucheng section began operation. The service was then named Bannan after the districts that it connects (Banqiao and Nangang).
On July 4, 2007, the Maokong Gondola, a new aerial lift/cable-car system, was opened to the public. The system connects the Taipei Zoo, Chi Nan Temple, and Maokong. Service was suspended on October 1, 2008 due to erosion from mudslides under a support pillar following Typhoon Jangmi. The gondola officially resumed service as of March 31, 2010, after relocation of the pillar and passing safety inspections.
On July 4, 2009, with the opening of the Neihu section of Wenhu line, the last of the six core sections was completed. Due to controversy on whether to construct a medium-capacity or high-capacity line, construction of the line did not begin until 2002.
Zhonghe–Xinlu line was extended from Guting to Luzhou and Huilong in 2012. The Xinyi section of Tamsui–Xinyi line and Songshan section of Songshan–Xindian line were opened on November 24, 2013 and November 15, 2014 respectively.
Prior to 2014, only physical lines had official names; services did not. In 2008, the Tamsui–Xindian–Nanshijiao and Xiaonanmen services were referred to by termini while Bannan and Wenhu services were referred to by the physical lines on which they operated.
Following the completion of the core sections of the system in 2014, the naming scheme for services was set and 'lines' started to referred to services. Between 2014 and 2016, lines were given alternative number names based on the order of the dates the lines first opened. Brown, Red, Green, Orange and Blue lines were named lines 1 to 5 respectively. The planned Circular, Wanda–Shulin and Minsheng–Xizhi lines were to be lines 6 to 8 respectively. In 2016, the number names were replaced by colour names. Today, Chinese announcements use full names while English announcements use colour names.
Timeline of services