ROC Yearbook

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Taipei Metro's Daan Park Station brings passengers the joy of nature with garden displays and environment-friendly designs. (Courtesy of Taiwan Panorama)

 

Land Transportation

Roads

Taiwan has over 42,000 kilometers of roads, most of which span the western coastal lowlands and hilly areas. On the west side of the island, the 432.5-kilometer Sun Yat-sen Freeway 中山高速公路 (National Freeway No. 1) connects Taiwan’s major cities from Keelung City 基隆市 in the north to Kaohsiung City 高雄市 in the south. Similarly, the 432.9-kilometer Formosa Freeway 福爾摩沙高速公路 (National Freeway No. 3) starts from Keelung City and runs to Pingtung County 屏東縣 in the south. Moreover, numerous east-west national freeways and expressways feed into these major north-south arteries, forming an efficient and convenient traffic network to serve the densely populated west coast.                                

 

In the northeast, the 54.2-kilometer Chiang Wei-shui Freeway 蔣渭水高速公路 (National Freeway No. 5) runs from the seaport of Su-ao Township 蘇澳鎮 northward along the coast to Yilan City 宜蘭市, then cuts northwestward through the Xueshan Mountains 雪山山脈 via the 12.9-kilometer Hsuehshan Tunnel 雪山隧道—the world’s eighth-longest freeway tunnel—to New Taipei City 新北市, and ends farther north at the Nangang System Interchange 南港系統交流道 in Taipei City 臺北市.

 

Transportation networks are less developed in eastern Taiwan, which, compared with the west, has a much smaller area of flat land and is less populous and industrialized. However, with domestic tourism boosted by Taiwan’s growing prosperity, this picturesque region is a high priority in development of transportation networks. Under the Hualien-Taitung Area Development Act 花東地區發展條例 promulgated in June 2011, NT$40 billion (US$1.36 billion) will be allocated over a 10-year period for the improvement of infrastructure, tourism, ecological sites and other concerns in Hualien 花蓮 and Taitung 臺東 counties.  

 

One east coast project underway is the re-engineering of the 101-kilometer Suhua Highway 蘇花公路 (part of Provincial Highway No. 9) between Su-ao Township and Hualien City 花蓮市. Improvement work on three sections totaling 38.8 kilometers in length began in 2011 and is expected to be completed by 2017.

                                     

On December 30, 2013, Taiwan switched its entire national freeway network to an Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system that calculates tolls based on the distance traveled by a vehicle, replacing the conventional flat-fee, semi-manual toll collection scheme. Now over 90 percent of freeway drivers take advantage of the ETC system by using “eTag” sensors, which are detected and tracked by a radio-frequency identification system. Vehicles without the tags can still travel on freeways; their road-use mileage is recorded on cameras using imaging recognition technology and their drivers are billed a few days later by the Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau 臺灣區國道高速公路局. The new scheme not only ensures fairness all around but also speeds up highway traffic as vehicles no longer have to pass through toll booths.                               

 

Taiwan's Highway Network

 

 

Public and Commercial Road Vehicles

 

Tens of thousands of highway buses, tour buses and public and private city buses provide long-distance or intercity transportation services. In Taipei City, dedicated bus lanes on major roads together with its mass rapid transit systems have helped ease traffic congestion. City buses islandwide accept payment by electronic stored-value cards such as the EasyCard 悠遊卡 and the iPass 一卡通, but passengers also have the option of dropping coins in fare boxes.

 

Taxis are a common sight in metropolitan areas. Taxi fares are set by local governments and vary slightly among cities. Meanwhile, car rental is on the rise as more city dwellers prefer to rent vehicles for vacation.

 

Railways

Taiwan has a state-run railway system as well as a privately run high-speed railway service. The former, operated by Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) 臺灣鐵路管理局 of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), provides service among 226 stations around the island. Its routes, 58.39 percent of which utilize double-track lines, total 1,180 kilometers in length.                     

 

In recent years, the proportion of passengers taking long-distance express trains has declined as travelers increasingly utilize the high-speed rail. Hence, the TRA is focusing on providing better service to passengers on shorter routes, including adding new stops and new cars to improve commuters’ travel experience.

 

Along Taiwan’s eastern coast, the TRA operates the Taroko Express 太魯閣列車, which employs a tilting technology that allows it to negotiate bends at high speeds and transport passengers from Taipei to Hualien in just under two hours. In February 2013, the TRA opened service on a new class of tilting trains, the Puyuma Express 普悠瑪列車, which can reach maximum operation speed of 150 kilometers per hour. Also, the Hualien-Taitung electric railway system was completed and began operation in June 2014. 

 

Various projects are underway to modernize sections of existing rail lines and to provide more convenient transportation services. A project to build an elevated rapid transit railway in Taichung City 臺中市 is scheduled for completion in March 2017. In Kaohsiung City, three underground railway projects to move underground existing stations and add TRA stops are proceeding.

 

TRA Public Railway System

 

High-speed Rail

Taiwan’s high-speed rail system, which is run by the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. 台灣高速鐵路股份有限公司, provides a quality 300-kilometer per hour intercity rail service along Taiwan’s western corridor. The fastest service between Taipei and Kaohsiung runs just 105 minutes while the slowest takes 145 minutes.

 

The 350-kilometer bullet train system currently serves 12 stations (Nangang 南港, Taipei, Banqiao 板橋, Taoyuan 桃園, Hsinchu 新竹, Miaoli 苗栗, Taichung, Changhua 彰化, Yunlin 雲林, Chiayi 嘉義, Tainan 臺南 and Zuoying 左營).

 

Taiwan High-speed Rail System

 

Metro Services

The Taipei Mass Rapid Transit System 臺北大眾捷運系統, popularly known as the Taipei MRT or Metro, has significantly facilitated transportation in metropolitan Taipei since it opened in 1996.

 

At present, five lines stretching a total of 131.1 kilometers and 117 stations are in operation. One more extension and four more lines, including one connecting the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TTIA) 臺灣桃園國際機場 and Taipei Main Station 臺北車站, are currently under construction. After the TTIA line is completed, travel time between the airport and downtown Taipei is expected to be reduced from an hour to around 35 minutes.

 

The Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit System 高雄捷運, or Kaohsiung Metro, spans nearly 45 kilometers and has 38 stations on two lines. It is linked with the Kaohsiung International Airport 高雄國際航空站, the high-speed rail and TRA railways, as well as the city bus system. The Kaohsiung Light Rail Transit Circular Line 高雄環狀輕軌捷運線—Taiwan’s first light railway system—is currently under construction, and the first phase of the network is expected to begin offering services in June 2017.

 

In Taichung, construction is underway on the MRT’s green line, the Wuri-Wenxin-Beitun Line 烏日文心北屯線, which is expected to be completed by 2020.

 

Personal Transportation

Scooters are extremely popular for their fuel efficiency, minimal parking space needs and freedom of mobility particularly in urban areas. Nationwide, scooters outnumber private-use four-wheel vehicles by more than two to one.

 

To complement existing transportation networks while promoting greener lifestyles, various cities have introduced public bicycle rental systems offering ultra-low rental prices and convenient access. Rental stations have been set up near metro stops, scenic spots and major business points while bike lanes are being extended. As of June 2016, the popular scheme had been launched in Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung cities as well as Changhua County.

 

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Maritime Shipping and Ports

At the end of 2015, Taiwan’s shipping fleet consisted of 313 vessels totaling 3.85 million gross tons (5.48 million deadweight tons). Among the carriers registered with the Republic of China, several provided container transportation services while others offered bulk transportation services.

 

Taiwan has seven international port facilities under the management of the MOTC. The four largest—Port of Kaohsiung 高雄港 in the south, Port of Taichung 臺中港 on the west central coast, and Port of Keelung 基隆港 and Port of Taipei 臺北港 in the north—handle container shipping and bulk/break-bulk cargo. The remaining three—Port of Hualien 花蓮港 in east central Taiwan, Su-ao Port 蘇澳港 in the northeast and Tainan City’s Anping Port 安平港 in the south—handle bulk and break-bulk cargo.

 

As a result of the agreement reached in November 2008 by Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) 海峽交流基金會 and mainland China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) 海峽兩岸關係協會 to open direct shipping links between the two sides, Taiwan opened 13 ports to direct cross-strait shipping as of March 2016, and the mainland reciprocated with 72 openings. This has significantly reduced the time and cost of transporting cargo to and from Taiwan’s top trading partner. Vessels sailing the strait now also transport tourists between the mainland and Taiwan (including offshore islands).

 

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Civil Aviation

As of December 2015, a total of 74 airlines (50 foreign, 16 mainland Chinese and eight domestic) operated international and cross-strait flights to and from Taiwan. They served a combined 301 routes to 135 cities around the world. In 2015, the number of passengers served at Taiwan’s airports (including arrivals, departures and transits) grew 5.06 percent over the previous year to 58.16 million, with international flight passengers making up the lion’s share.

 

In line with agreements between the SEF and the ARATS, direct cross-strait charter flights commenced in July 2008 with weekend service, which was expanded to daily service in December of that year. Carriers of both sides thereafter could fly across the strait without detouring through Hong Kong’s airspace.

 

In April 2009, the SEF and the ARATS signed a supplementary agreement on scheduled flights between Taiwan’s airports and those in mainland China. As a result, two new cross-strait routes were commissioned in July 2009 with 270 scheduled passenger flights per week. As of March 2016, the number of scheduled passenger flights between 61 airports in mainland China and 10 in Taiwan rose to 890 per week, while the number of scheduled cargo flights between 10 destinations on the mainland and two in Taiwan increased to 84 weekly.

 

Airports

The main gateway into the country is the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, which in 2015 served 38.47 million international and domestic passengers through two passenger terminals. It is now run by Taoyuan International Airport Corp. Ltd. 桃園國際機場股份有限公司, a state-owned corporation established in November 2010 under the auspices of the MOTC.

 

A renovation project launched in 2010 to revamp Terminal 1 of the airport was completed in July 2013. To offer additional passenger-friendly services to an increasing number of global travelers, a multi-billion dollar refurbishment and expansion project for Terminal 2 was unveiled in late 2014, and a third terminal is currently also under construction.

 

Several other airports also provide international service. In 2015, Taipei Songshan Airport 臺北國際航空站, located in downtown Taipei, served 5.86 million international and domestic passengers. Kaohsiung International Airport, connected to the city via the Kaohsiung Metro, served 6 million passengers. Taichung Airport 臺中航空站, opening a new international terminal in April 2013, served 2.34 million travelers for the entire year. All three of these airports offer two passenger terminals.

 

Of Taiwan’s 17 airports, nine are located on Taiwan proper (Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, Chiayi, Kaohsiung, Hengchun 恆春, Hualien and Taitung) and eight on offshore islands—three on the Penghu Islands 澎湖群島, two on the Matsu Islands 馬祖列嶼, and one each on Lanyu Island (Orchid Island) 蘭嶼, Ludao Island (Green Island) 綠島 and Greater Kinmen 大金門.

 

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E-traffic Information

The MOTC’s Institute of Transportation 交通部運輸研究所 operates a Traffic and Transportation Service Center 交通服務e網通 website that displays real-time traffic conditions around Taiwan, enabling drivers to avoid traffic jams and find alternative routes. Visitors to the bilingual website can obtain information about fares, timetables and routes of long-distance coaches, TRA trains, high-speed trains, flights, and boats plying the waters between Taiwan proper and its offshore islands. Also available on the website is information on city buses, intercity buses and rapid transit systems in Taiwan’s various urban areas.

 

Telecommunications

Taiwan’s telecommunications market has developed at a rapid pace since liberalization measures were adopted in the mid-1990s with mobile, satellite and fixed-line communication services opened to the private sector.

 

Like many other developed nations, Taiwan’s mobile phone market faces oversaturation. The penetration rate passed 100 percent in early 2002 and continued to climb, reaching 125 percent in 2015. The market’s limited size has led to fierce competition among network operators as they vie to expand their market share through efficiency, value-added services and competitive pricing.

 

The number of mobile phones in use exceeded the number of fixed-line telephones for the first time in 2007. Taiwan has three second-generation, five third-generation and five fourth-generation mobile phone operators. As of January 2016, their subscribers numbered 920,000, 16.17 million and 12.21 million, respectively.

 

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Digital Television

On July 1, 2012, terrestrial television channels in Taiwan completed a transition from analog to digital TV signal broadcasting. The digital format allows Taiwan’s original five terrestrial channels to offer additional services, giving the public access to 20 channels as of March 2016.

 

In keeping with the Digital Convergence Policy Initiative 數位匯流發展方案 approved by the Executive Yuan 行政院 in 2010, the cable TV industry is being required by the National Communications Commission (NCC) 國家通訊傳播委員會 to move toward comprehensive digitization. The Legislative Yuan’s 立法院 passage of an amendment to the Cable Radio and Television Act 有線廣播電視法 in December 2015 has accelerated the digitization of cable TV and increased competition in previously monopolistic operating areas.

 

The Internet

A survey conducted by the Taiwan Network Information Center 臺灣網路資訊中心 in August 2015 showed that 80.3 percent of people aged 12 and above had used the Internet (increasingly via mobile devices) and 100 percent of people aged 18 to 30 had done so. Meanwhile, 89.2 percent of households were equipped with Internet service (mostly broadband connections).

 

NCC data showed that broadband Internet subscriptions (mobile and fixed) stood at 26.70 million at the end of 2015. Among these, some 1.06 million were ADSL, 3.35 million FTTx, 1.25 million cable modem, 3,484 leased lines and 1.96 million public wireless local area network users. Mobile broadband accounts, meanwhile, reached 19.08 million.

 

To boost wireless broadband development in remote areas, the government in December 2015 launched the i-Tribe 愛部落 program for free Wi-Fi in Taiwan’s indigenous communities. The program comes with a budget of NT$1.5 million (US$47,000) per community and an initial goal of setting up free outdoor Wi-Fi service in 170 of the nation’s 734 indigenous communities by the end of 2017.

 

Digital Convergence

The Digital Convergence Policy Initiative (2010-2015) aims to deliver broadband Internet access to all households in Taiwan. As of the end of 2015, the number of households subscribing to optical fiber networks and wireless broadband accounts had reached 4.73 million and 17.92 million respectively. The NCC is working on a follow-up project for 2016-2018, which will be promulgated after the Executive Yuan’s approval.

 

To keep Taiwan’s regulations abreast of the latest global trends, the NCC has drafted several bills on digital convergence affairs. These bills—aiming to lower market barriers, relax regulations, facilitate cross-border services and ensure a level playing field for competition across different industries—will be sent to the Legislature after the Executive Yuan’s approval.

 

IPv6 Upgrade Promotion Program

In December 2011, the Executive Yuan approved the IPv6 Upgrade Promotion Program 網際網路通訊協定升級推動方案 to replace Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) with IPv6 as the communications protocol that directs Internet traffic. One month later, the IPv6 Upgrade Promotion Office 網際網路通訊協定升級推動辦公室 was established under the National Information and Communications Initiative Committee 國家資訊通信發展推動小組 of the Executive Yuan. Under the program, government agencies are required to upgrade all networks, databases and computer equipment to IPv6 standards by 2016. External service upgrade had been completed as of the end of 2015, while internal services will be upgraded in 2016.

 

ide@ Taiwan 2020 Policy White Paper

In 2015, the Executive Yuan released the ide@ Taiwan 2020 policy white paper 創意臺灣政策白皮書 as a blueprint for national digital development over the next five years. The white paper proposes actions in five areas:

  • Infrastructural environment: Adjust regulations governing the virtual world, improve the information and communications technology infrastructure, and strengthen cyber security laws.
  • Transparent governance: Promote open data, encourage online participation in public policies, and expand e-government services.
  • Intelligent lifestyle: Create digitized community health care mechanisms, build an information cloud for food safety management, facilitate e-learning, and promote “online-to-offline” technologies for new types of video content.
  • Internet economy: Forge a startup-friendly environment, encourage e-commerce and online marketing, and promote online financial services.
  • Smart homeland: Build a geospatial-temporal information cloud for disaster preparedness, set up an integrated transportation data platform offering real-time traffic conditions, and promote smart green communities.

 

Related websites

• Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau: http://www.freeway.gov.tw

• Directorate General of Highways: http://www.thb.gov.tw

• Taiwan Railways Administration: http://www.railway.gov.tw

• Ministry of Transportation and Communications: http://www.motc.gov.tw

• Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp.: http://www.thsrc.com.tw

• Department of Rapid Transit Systems, Taipei City Government: http://www.dorts.gov.taipei

• Taipei Rapid Transit Corp.: http://www.trtc.com.tw

• Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp.: http://www.krtco.com.tw

• Civil Aeronautics Administration: http://www.caa.gov.tw

• Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport: http://www.taoyuan-airport.com

• Traffic and Transportation Service Center: http://e-iot.iot.gov.tw

• National Communications Commission: http://www.ncc.gov.tw