Auspicious train tickets bearing seven “ones” for travel on Nov. 11 this year sold out within hours this week, in a repeat of the “9999” furor 12 years ago.
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) also occasionally introduces commemorative tickets with auspicious-sounding combinations of station names.
One of the most popular is between Yongkang (永康) and Baoan (保安) stations in Tainan, which forms the phrase “Yong Bao An Kang” (永保安康), meaning “peace and health forever” when read counterclockwise.
Photo: Huang Ming-tang, Taipei Times
As this is the year 111 on the Republic of China calendar, the TRA was selling commemorative tickets between the stations for Nov. 11 reading “1111111.”
The TRA prepared 50,000 tickets, with 12,500 for sale per day starting three days before in accordance with its regular sales policy. Each person was limited to buying 20 tickets for NT$20 each.
On the first day of sales on Tuesday, people lined up at the stations even before the tickets became available at 5:30am.
Photo: Wu Chun-feng, Taipei Times
On all four days they were for sale, tickets sold out within hours.
Baoan Station later prepared an additional 20,000 tickets, which also sold out.
Staff at Yongkang Station said they fielded telephone calls for days asking if there were still tickets.
Photo: Wu Chun-feng, Taipei Times
The TRA’s Kaohsiung Transportation Section dispatched personnel to help manage the crowds, as well as five additional printing machines.
Staff said it was the most popular commemorative ticket since the one offered on Sept. 9, 2010, for “9999.”
Yongkang Station master Tseng Chun-ming (曾俊銘) said that with help from the Kaohsiung section, 10 people were on duty to help distribute the tickets.
Everything proceeded in an orderly fashion, with additional assistance from the police, Tseng said.
One woman surnamed Chen (陳) went to Yongkang Station in the early hours of Wednesday to help her grandson buy a ticket, as he had to work.
She was finally able to buy one after waiting for two-and-a-half hours, saying it was worth it to help her grandson, even if she had to miss breakfast.
The commemorative stamps to go with the ticket highlight different kinds of love, with the Yongkang Station stamp emphasizing familial love and the Baoan Station stamp portraying love between friends, the Kaohsiung section said, adding that the rider can choose which to get depending on who they plan to gift the ticket to.
Other destinations also saw crowds yesterday looking to commemorate the repetitious date.
In Taitung County’s Chenggong Township (成功), the 111km marker of Provincial Highway No. 11 was flooded with people waiting to check in at 11:11am.
With some calling the event “Super Singles’ Day,” some visitors wanted to take the once-in-1,000-years opportunity to celebrate being single.
The Taitung County Police Bureau’s Chenggong Precinct dispatched officers to the site to maintain order.
For others, the date offered a special and easy-to-memorize date for couples to register their marriages, in addition to it being an auspicious day according to the lunar calendar.
As of noon yesterday, 305 couples had registered their marriages in Taipei, a big jump from last year’s 59 couples for the whole of Nov. 11, the Taipei Department of Civil Affairs said.
However, May 20 is still the preferred date for couples to register their marriages, as 520 has a homophonic association with “I love you” in Mandarin, the department said, adding that a record 851 couples registered on the date this year.
Additional reporting by Tsai Ya-hua
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