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Happy Trips to Hualien and Taitung with Considerate Ticket Service from TRA

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  • Last updated:2018-12-25
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Less Social Discontent and More Public Welfare Through Anti-Corruption

 

Happy Trips to Hualien and Taitung with Considerate Ticket Service from TRA

MOTC-TRA

 

Hualien and Taitung have always been the two must-visit spots in Taiwan of both international and local travelers. However, tickets are always sold out. To tackle this problem, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has specifically amended the Railway Act twice to deal with scalpers with harsher punishments. In addition, the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) has introduced the real-name ticket booking policy to benefit and protect the rights and benefits of residents of Hualien and Taitung. TRA has also launched the new ticket refund policy: the later the refund is, the higher the service charge will be, in order to eliminate the ticket booking abuse of unscrupulous dealers. Such convenient measures for citizens that TRA has launched have become effective, enabling travelers to explore the wonders and landscapes of the real Hualien and Taitung.

 

1.      Current status

Tall mountains, rifted valleys, and blue coasts are the distinctive features of Hualien and Taitung attracting both international and local travelers. To fulfill the need of travelers, TRA has specifically purchased the tilting train (Taroko and Puyuma trains) to shorten the traveling time between Taipei and Hualien/Taitung. Apart from winning critical acclaim, the tilting train has since become the first choice of passengers. While citizens have special preferences to specific times and train types, capacity insufficiency thus occurs at peak hours.

From the “Integrity Research of the Standardization of Group Ticket Operations”, TRA Ethics Office found that the proportion excess of group tickets, serious ticket snapping up and refund by scalpers, and information non-transparency were the main causes for the ticket shortage problem. These causes are as follows:

1.1.    Snapping up first and refunding later: People exploit the online booking program to snap up tickets for vending to make more profit. Particularly, travel agents often snap up tickets and refund them later, making no time for TRA to sell refunded tickets.

1.2.    Insufficient railway capacity: The dual-track construction project of between Hualien and Taitung has not been completed, both scheduling and capacity are affected when only one track is in service.

1.3.    Insufficient seats at popular sessions: Passengers prefer taking early trains to Hualien and Taitung and night trains back to Taipei. Therefore, 7 am to 10 am before and from 4 pm to 7 pm after the holidays are the most popular times during which seats are in severe shortage. By contrast, occupancy in other sessions is undesirable.

1.4.    Insufficient the base-level workforce: Railway transportation has limitations, and the optimal results are obtained when route capacity, car quantity, and operating workforce are sufficient. In the 2016 Civil Service Special Examination for Railway Staff, some 1,400 candidates were accepted. As railway staff must work three shifts and no have no regular holidays, the retention rate of newcomers is low, only 70-80% of those completing arrival, and the exit rate after arrival is very high. Therefore, base-level workforce is often insufficient.

 

2.      Improvement measures

To stop scalpers from snapping up train tickets, the TRA Ethics Office conducted an integrity study. To resolve key factors including ticket snapping, capacity insufficiency, train (seat) shortages, and the understaffing problem, apart from purchasing new trains, improving routes, and filling vacancies, the TRA Ethics Office has voluntarily has proposed the following improvement measures in collaboration with the business management unit to resolve related problems and eliminate citizen discontent.

2.1.    Ticket service improvement

2.1.1.  Eliminating scalpers through amendment of the Railway Act: Before the amendment, those conspiring to profit by purchasing and re-selling train tickets or exchanging train tickets will be punishable by remand and/or a fine below NT$1,000 according to Article 65 of the Railway Act. To protect the rights and interest of citizens, however, related punishments have been raised in the amendments dated June 18, 2014 and November 9, 2016 to a fine at one to ten times of ticket price for each ticket and then to five to thirty times the ticket price for each ticket. In addition, the punishment for purchasing tickets or obtaining reservations by illegal ways such as inputting false data or incorrect information into a (train system) computer or its relevant equipment, has been raised from a fine from NT$50,000 to NT$500,000 to imprisonment a maximum of five (5) years and/or a maximum fine of NT$3,000,000.

2.1.2.  Revision of the TRA member system: To improve passenger transportation service, encourage passengers to take TRA trains, and enhance passenger car transportation efficiency, TRA has accumulated over 200,000 members after the launch of the train ticking booking membership system in 2011. To prevent a small number of employees from accumulating the ticket purchases of others to their own member points, TRA director-general instructed the Ethics Office and the business management unit to discuss and develop improvement actions. In 2016, the TRA Ethics Office assisted the business unit in revising the Taiwan Railways Administration Service System Member Service Terms & TRA Member Redemption Regulations into the Taiwan Railways Administration Member Service Agreement, which was implemented as of July 1, 2016. In the revision, TRA is not allowed to be a TRA ticket booking system member to reduce citizens’ doubts and minimize the risk of TRA employees from committing the crime.

2.1.3.  Implementation of the real-name ticket booking policy and homecoming charter trains: Apart from arranging additional trains, TRA implements the real-name ticket booking policy for some trains for residents of Hualien and Taitung only during long holidays. TRA also arranges additional homecoming charter trains at the request of the Hualien County and Taitung County governments for residents of Hualien and Taitung to reduce their inconveniences in booking tickets to go home.

2.1.4.  Dispersion of popular sessions to off-peak hours: With differentiated marketing, TRA arranges additional Taipei-Yilan express and red-eye trains with fare discounts to disperse transportation demand to off-peak hours.

2.1.5.  Raising service charge for ticket refund: TRA raises the service charge for refunding tickets with reserved seats from a fixed fee at NT$13 each to charge by the number of days. The service charge for same-day refund is 20% of the fare, 10% of the fare for 2-3 days before departure, NT$20 each ticket for 4-12 days before departures, and NT$10 each ticket for 13 or more days before departure.

2.1.6.  Through the questionnaire survey and qualitative analysis in the integrity research, the TRA Ethics Office discerns the views and feelings of citizens at ticket booking to determine the directions to continuously enhance the anti-hacking mechanism of the ticket booking system:

(1)    Increase verification code combinations and identification difficulty from fixed 4 digits to 4-6 digits at random.

(2)    Block abnormal booking procedures.

(3)    Strengthen network side firewalls, adjust computing mechanisms and parameters at random to block booking tickets with programs.

(4)    Identify the transaction text of normal ticket booking from program ticket booking to block abnormal ticket booking.

2.2.    Internal control

Establish the internal control system and standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the transportation and ticket booking system. The TRA Ethics Office and the TRA information management unit plan and implement the information security management system (ISMS) internal audit and hold the management review meeting to maintain system security and stability.

2.3.    Procurement of new ticket purchase systems to provide convenient services for citizens

2.3.1.  G4 ticket system

The 4th generation ticket system integrates timetable enquiries, ticket vending, payment, and the ticket collection processes to provide passengers with more convenient and faster ticket purchasing services. This new system enhances information security protection and effectively handle peak ticket booking flow during long holidays by means of cloud virtualization to effectively. The system also supports a range of mobile payment mechanisms to achieve “app as ticket” to achieve energy conservation and emissions reduction. To promote tourism at the same time, apart from offering comprehensive meal ordering methods to fulfill travel needs, a platform for connecting with transportation or travel agents is planned to expand the scope of ticket sales services. A yield-management-based back-end system has been implemented to match train dispatch with passenger needs, in order to reduce seat wastage and increase revenue.

2.3.2.  Procurement of new multi-functional ticket vending machines

To improve service quality, TRA plans to procure 472 new multi-functional ticket vending machines (TVMs) in 2018 and to install them at all TRA stations in phases. In addition to vending ticket, these new TVMs provide functions including ticket booking, thicket collection, electronic ticket top-up, and magnetic ticket vending.

2.4.    Capacity enhancement with the TRA Train Procurement and Replacement Program

According to the TRA Train Procurement and Replacement Program (2015-2024), old trains (EMUs) will be replaced to increase train travel speed, shorten schedule interval, enhance capacity, improve service quality, and achieve green transportation for energy conservation and emissions reduction. Other goals of the program include “fleet upgrading, ENU standardization, and travel speed enhancement”, “Eastern Line enhancement and trans-line transportation”, “rapid transport for urban areas along the Western Line and Railway Rapid Transit Systematization”, and “green transport for energy conservation and emissions reduction”, aiming to improve overall service quality and enhance transportation efficiency.

 

3.      Outcomes

3.1.    Protection of the rights and interest of local citizens and passengers

By implementing the real-name ticket booking policy and dispersing passengers from popular sessions to off-peak hours, TRA has protected the rights and interest of residents of Hualien and Taitung. In addition, TRA has canceled group ticket booking of the Tzu Chiang Limited Express during long holidays of three or more days since the Dragon Boat Festival (June 9) of 2016 to increase up to 5,500 seats for the Hualien-Taitung Line. As of July 1, 2016, the proportion of ticket booking of the Tzu Chiang Limited Express during weekends has reduced from 25% to 20% to enable residents of Hualien and Taitung to go home more conveniently, in order to significantly lower the discontent from ticket shortages of residents of Hualien and Taitung.

3.2.    Refund rate reduction

After implementing the new refund policy based on the length from the departure date, TRA has significantly reduced the same-day (departure date) ticket refund rate from 1.27 million tickets in 2014 to 0.89 million tickets in 2016, or from 35% to 29%, achieving the goal to minimize seat wastage by reducing same-day ticket refund.

3.3.    Outcomes of the real-name ticket booking policy

To facilitate residents of Hualien and Taitung (with household registration) to go home more conveniently, TRA opens real-name ticket booking for people with ID card numbers starting with U and V. Starting from the Mid-Autumn Festival of 2016, four additional trains with real-name ticket booking have been added for long holidays, including four trains for three-day long holidays, six trains for four-day long holidays, and eight trains for the Spring Festival holiday. In 2017, a total of 40 additional trains were operated to transport about 14,900 passengers.

3.4.    Procurement quality assurance

For the smooth operation of the TRA Train Procurement and Replacement Program, the TRA Ethics Office has planned and implemented the Integrity Platform based on the procurement schedule to introduce the transparency concept. TRA has set up the transparent administration website to encourage outsiders to oversee the program together. TRA also held seminars in collaboration with anti-corruption and prosecution units, with participants including suppliers, scholars and experts, to express its vow and determination to maintain integrity, gather public opinions and recommendations for reformation, discover potential risk factors, and take timely countermeasures.

 

 

4.      Conclusions

The trans-century railway continues the service and enthusiasm of TRA employees who serve passengers upon TRA’s century-old tradition, hoping to win passenger trust and support by improving services for passengers and creating the goodwill of this century-old brand.

Through integrity research, information audit, and early warning, the TRA Ethics Office effectively captures organizational integrity risks, addresses citizen needs, and proposes improvement actions. In the future, the TRA Ethics Office will assist TRA in implementing integrity-related measures in coordination with the Forward-Looking Program; expand integrity partnership in collaboration with the prosecution unit, the investigation unit, and non-profit organizations (NPOs); uphold the freedom of information, transparency, equality, efficiency, and integrity principles; achieve the program goals together; provide passengers with comfortable, safe and convenient railway transportation; and enhance the happy riding feelings of passengers.

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