Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário said on Thursday that the government expects the Taipa section of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) to enter commercial service next month or in November, adding that the government will announce the LRT fare system shortly before the section opens.
The policy secretary also revealed that the government will sign a 10-year agreement with the fully government-owned LRT company today for the operation and maintenance of the LRT system, adding that the company will start operating at the end of this month when the Transport Infrastructure Office (GIT) will be finally abolished.
Rosário made the remarks while speaking to reporters at the Macau Chamber of Commerce (ACM) in Zape where he attended a reception to celebrate National Day.
The LRT was first proposed by the government in the early 2000s. However, the main construction – that is, of the Taipa section – only started in 2012.
The government first said in 2016 that it aimed for the LRT Taipa section to come into service in 2019. Since early this year, the government has reaffirmed that the LRT Taipa section will start operating in the second half of this year. In early July, Rosário told reporters that the government expected the Taipa section to come into service on December 19 at the latest – i.e. the day before the 20th anniversary of Macau’s return to the motherland.
The Taipa section, which includes Cotai, is 9.3 kilometres long and has 11 stations.
Speaking to reporters o Thursday, Rosário said that the government had not yet decided the date of the operational start of the LRT Taipa section, while the preparatory tasks for its operation were going on smoothly. The policy secretary said that the government would announce the date of the inauguration of the section and the LRT fare system at the same time in the near future. He said there was no need for the government to announce the fare system “too early”.
The government said early this year that the Transport Infrastructure Office will be abolished when the government-owned LRT company is established, and that the LRT company will then take over the tasks currently conducted by the office – which was established in November 2007 as a government “project team” tasked with planning the city’s LRT system and supervising the LRT construction.
Rosário said on Thursday that most of the staff currently working in the Transport Infrastructure Office will be transferred to the new government-owned LRT company, while the remaining will be transferred to a raft of other government entities.
The government has said the government-owned LRT company will be overseen by the Transport Bureau (DSAT).
The government first announced in April last year that it had hired the MTR Corporation from Hong Kong to operate the LRT Taipa section for five years as well as to provide assistance in the run-up to the start of its operation.
In a statement in April last year, the Transport Infrastructure Office said that the government had granted the MTR an 80-month agreement for assisting in the operation of the LRT Taipa section and its maintenance. The services provided by the MTR include pre-opening testing, hiring the operation team and staff training. According to the statement, according to the 5.88 billion pataca agreement, the MTR will operate the LRT Taipa segment for five years, as well as carry out repairs and maintenance of the trains, signal system and all the other facilities and equipment. The MTR Corporation Limited has set up a fully-owned subsidiary – MTR Railway Operations (Macau) Company Limited – for the operation of the LRT Taipa section.
According to the Macau Post Daily, the government has pledged that the total cost of the LRT Taipa section, including the construction, the rolling stock and the setting-up of the system, will not exceed the previously budgeted amount of 11 billion patacas.
The Barra LRT station is under construction and according to previous government announcements slated to open in 2022 or 2023. The LRT Taipa section and Barra LRT station will be linked by Sai Van Bridge. Chief Executive-designate Ho Iat Seng has indicated that he intends the LRT project to be extended to other areas on the peninsula.