To encourage more people to try the new rail system, the company announced last week that it would offer a 50 percent discount on the fares for the test runs and would also sell 50,000 commemorative tickets.
Apparently attracted by the reduced prices or the novelty of the new rail system, people started to line up in front of the ticket booths at every THSRC station on Monday evening in the hopes of being among the first passengers of the nation's first north-south high-speed railway.
"We expect to sell 30,000 tickets a day ? obviously we underestimated demand," Ou said.
As of 8pm, THSRC said it had sold 81,168 tickets.
If real demand reflects this, then I will have to eat a heaping helping of corvus, since I have long thought this train was a waste of money. But hopefully this demand will be sustained. Nostalgiaphile rounded up some media links:
Today, the Liberty Times ran several articles about the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) which opened yesterday. One is titled "HSR fails its first class" (because of the chaos and counter help) one is about "High-speed Rail One" (about Ah-bian's ride on HSR), another is titled "Listen to me, HSRC!" (someone complaining about the ticket machines), and still another announces "HSRC sells 80,000 tickets on its opening day."
Hai Tien at the great blog The Bala Daily describes his own experiences attempting to get a ticket:
It's a testament to the power of the media here how much hysteria they've been able to whip up regarding the soon to be opened Taiwan High Speed Rail system. Every detail of the construction of THSR has been carefully scrutinized by the media and promptly reinterpreted in the worst possible light.
Consequently my folks are convinced that the first train out of Banciao Station will derail, burst into flame, and be struck by a meteor. And I will lie there blooded and dying while a TVBS reporter shoves a microphone into my face screaming "先生！你現在感覺如何？"
And so, that is how I ended up with round trip standard class tickets from Banciao to Taichung for opening day (this Friday) for a total cost of NT$670 (US$20.57), though I did miss out on the commemorative tickets being sold yesterday. If all goes well, the trip to Taichung should take about 55 minutes there and back again, with 2 hours for me to poke around THSR Taichung Station (which I am told is located out in the boonies somewhere). I'll be gone from Taipei after breakfast and be back in time for lunch. Cool.