Today I went out to Muzha to have a look at the new Maokong cable car (貓空纜車) system. The system is not in operation yet, but should start running in June this year.The line is four kilometres long and has four stations: (1) Taipei Zoo (動物園), (2) Inside Zoo (園內), (3) Zhinan Temple (指南宮) and (4) Maokong (貓空).
The system will be managed by the Taipei Rapid Transport Corporation who are also responsible for running the MRT. Fares will be from NT$30-50 and can be paid using the Easy Card (悠遊卡) that is used on the MRT and Taipei's buses.
I took the MRT to the Taipei Zoo Station to get a look at the first station of the cable car system, Taipei Zoo Station. The cable car station is located about 500 metres from the MRT station. To get there you have to walk past the Zoo Mall and the Maokong Cable Car Visitor Information Centre. I initially thought the information centre was the cable car station. However, I discovered that the centre was mainly designed for children's entertainment.
There were even two fake pandas. They were actually moving and the little one was talking (see the video at YouTube). I thought to myself that Taiwan need not bother with pandas from China. I am sure these pandas could be easily modified to give hugs for NT$50. It would be a great money-spinner and perhaps could even be exported to China!!!
The Taipei Zoo cable car station was just past the visitor information center. It was not possible to access the inside of the station, but I took some photos from the outside. The design of the stations seems very simple and minimalist. The above photo is black and white, but the stations have a grey concrete exterior.
Next I travelled from the Taipei Zoo to Zhinan Temple via MRT and bus. The Zhinan Temple is the location of the third station on the cable car line. The photo of the Zhinan Temple cable car station above is not very clear because of fog.
An article in the Taipei Times last week reported about the concerns of some local residents about noise and also possible landslides as a result of the construction. I am not very familiar with the area so I don't feel qualified to make a judgement. One thing I can say is that any visual impacts of the cable cars near the Zhinan Temple are small in comparison to a nearby high voltage power line (see photo above).
When the cable cars start running I will go back and take a ride and post a full report and more photos here.
Update: The Taipei Times has an article about the cable cars today. According to the article the system will start running on 30 June. (added 18 April 2007)