Maokong, China gondola: Hello Kitty

CNA December 6, 2013, 12:02 am TWN TAIPEI —
Here we go again: Hello Kitty appears on Chinese transportation:
Hello Gondola
Urbanites looking to escape the city for quiet hillside teahouses
via the Maokong Gondola will soon find themselves joined by an
endearing travel companion: Japanese cartoon icon Hello Kitty.

Maokong gondola eyeing Hello
Kitty endorsement The beloved cartoon cat will adorn the gondola
lift’s 145 carriages and four stations starting Friday, a move
which operator Taipei Rapid Transit Corp. (TRTC) hopes will stem
the continued revenue losses incurred by the system since 2010. As
celebrity endorsements go, Hello Kitty is a good match for the
removed district of southeast Taipei, known for its copious
teahouses and rural charm, because the name Maokong literally means
“cat space.” TRTC said the decorations will be up for a year under
its Hello Kitty-centered campaign, which will lift off with a
garden party this weekend. Free rides on the gondola lift will be
offered to some 300 “disadvantaged individuals,” said Ling Chi-yao,
chief of TRTC’s Media Relations Section. The company is holding out
hope that Hello Kitty will give a much needed boost to the
4.03-kilometer-long gondola line, which has lost NT$360 million
(US$12.2 million) due to low ridership and high maintenance costs
since it reopened in 2010. The Maokong Gondola suspended operation
in late 2008, just one year after it opened, after the foundation
at a support pillar was damaged during a typhoon. Service resumed
in 2010, but low public interest has left it unable to recoup
losses. A full fare ticket costs NT$50 for a one-way trip on the
elevated gondola line, which takes about 25 minutes to get between
the terminal stations at Taipei Zoo and Maokong, a height
difference of 275 meters.