Photos by MJ Klein
Part I was an introduction to the system and showed you some features, the look and feel. Now, it’s time to take a ride!
The KRT system is single platform system (at least where we rode it). This means you never have to wonder if you are doing down the correct staircase to the correct platform, because they all lead to the same single platform. You only have to be concerned about direction once you are down there. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of signs to tell you which direction the rails are going.
People in southern Taiwan aren’t used to this concept yet. The yellow arrow in the center is for people leaving the cars. Several times during our test ride, the door opened and I was met with people standing directly in my way while trying to exit (they do the same thing in front of elevators but that’s another Sound Off! story). I just pushed them aside. They’ll get it eventually. Other countries have adopted this procedure (such as Hong Kong), with good results.
A few shots inside the car:
I gotta tell you: My first words were “WHOO HOO!” The KRT is smooth! Smoother than the THSR. I was extremely impressed with the quality of the ride. There was no rocking, bumping or jerking like I have experienced riding other systems. The only complaint that I might mention is that the KRT is very loud. Hui-chen and I found talking a bit difficult.
The following shots show the door opening sequence. You may click any one of them and then view the entire series on Flickr if you like:
We got out at a couple of stations and poked around looking at everything.
In our last article we said that the exits were numbered. All the station maps refer to this system and that makes navigation around the station a lot easier. It also makes it easier to meet people by telling them that you will exit at a certain number, which is visible on the outside too. So no more missed meetings because you were waiting across the street from where your friend thought you would be.
These folding bikes were for sale in many of the stations during the test. It looked like many people were buying them too. It makes a lot of sense, both the selling of these bikes in the KRT system, and also the using of fold up bikes, too. I’d never seen this model before but they looked cool.
This is a system map, as previously mentioned. We confirmed that each station has them. I’ve been in other systems that did not have the station schematic (on the right side on this particular map). It’s one of those things that if you need it, you really wish you had it. Being able to see the station layout at a glance really helps you find your way around.
This is one of the best though-out concepts I have ever seen. Immediately, people saw the value of all the information on one big map. I watched as these test riders figured out where they wanted to go on the outside, and then located the appropriate exit on the inside. This is going to reduce the number of people stumbling around looking for exits.
The escalators all had this weird brush strip on the sides (it looks like a black line in the photo). I have no idea why, but if you brush up against it, you’ll move for sure. Perhaps that is the point.
What about human interfaces?
Here are the turnstiles:
Below the display is a graphic that looks like a card and a coin. In Chinese you see that the turnstile accepts either passcards or one-way tickets. I am not sure how this is going to work because there isn’t a slot for the one-way ticket, but maybe you can give it a wave too. This is one of the few examples we found where either the graphic or the wording was confusing. We’ll show you more later.
This shot shows the clearly marked exit numbers for the station. But the real reason that I took this photo is because the KRT connects with the Kaohsiung airport. Hui-chen and I got off at this station to investigate.
One walks toward the appropriate terminal. In our case we wanted to see what it’s like to connect to the international terminal. Here we see the escalator to the street level. From where this shot was taken, if you look to the left, you see a set of 4 elevators down the hall:
Clearly, the designers of the KRT would prefer that passengers take the escalator up to the street level. Sometimes in Taiwan, there seems to be an “exclusive” mentality that prevails about things. For example, one time I wanted to buy a big sponge to wash the walls in my restroom. When I selected the sponge that I wanted, someone told me “That’s for washing cars.” I replied “I’m pretty sure it can wash walls too.” In this case the elevators are fine for passengers and they are four of them so I don’t think any handicapped passengers would be inconvenienced by non-handicapped passenger usage. And there is a very good reason why anyone would want to use one of these elevators from this level. That reason will become apparent momentarily.
This is where you land when you take the escalator up to street level. From here you can see the airport runways (to the left in this perspective) and you’re pretty much out in the open, except for the overhead passageway. Look along the left side of this photograph please.
These elevators are tiny! There is no way that a wheelchair person, an attendant and luggage for 2 people would fit in one of these. I don’t know what they were thinking. Hui-chen and I found it cramped and we made a note that it would be a tight fit with our normal compliment of international luggage.
Once inside, you are going to be confused by the fact that the term “MRT” doesn’t not exist anywhere. This is what the levels mean:
- Transfer Level 2: This is the overhead passageway that connects the domestic terminal and the international terminal.
- Ground Level 1: This level is where the escalator from the KRT system takes you (and is the level we are on in this article currently).
- Concourse Level B1: This is the KRT system level, near the escalator previously shown.
Notice that this elevator goes up to the passageway. We pressed #2 and took a look around:
This is not unlike the tunnel between the domestic and international terminals at Thailand’s Don Muang airport. This is a nice covered walkway with moving belt so you can relax. We went to the left, towards the international terminal.
We reaized that if you use the elevator from the “concourse” level in the KRT, you can take it up to the “transfer level” and walk to the terminal of your choice in comfort without being exposed to the elements. So, if it’s raining, or you want to take grandma to the airport on a cold day, or you just want the convenience of going straight to the passageway, then now you know how to do it.
In the passageway, we found these same signs:
We hope you have enjoyed our test ride of the KRT system. We’re looking forward to seeing it completed. It’s going to be a huge success!