Local transportation 4: City transportation
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In the City
Taipei has a comprehensive and extensive bus system operated by a confederation of fifteen independent bus companies. Many of the routes also serve the neighboring satellite cities in Taipei County. The bus system is fully integrated with the Taipei MRT system with most bus routes having stops near various MRT stations.
Many bus routes are divided into two or three fare zones (called 分段區 or “segmentation zones” in Chinese). Crossing from one fare zone to another requires paying an additional full fare. Crossing over three fare zones results in paying a total of three times the full fare. Usually there are “buffer stops” between each fare zone so that passengers do not face paying twice over one stop.
Passengers must pay attention to an indicator lamp inside the bus that tells them if they have to pay when they get on or off the bus. The lamp displays either the Chinese character for up/on (上, which looks like thumbs up) or down/off (下, which looks like thumbs down). A passenger might pay once when getting on the bus, and again when getting off because of traveling between two fare zones.
Under certain conditions, the bus driver may give the passenger a laminated pass, which the passenger must surrender when getting off the bus. This pass helps the driver to determine the number of fare zones the passenger crossed.
The adult fare is NT$15. Seniors over 65 and children below a certain height pay NT$8. Adults who transfer between the MRT and bus within one hour enjoy a NT$7 discount if they use a regular EasyCard (悠遊卡). Certain seats at the front of the bus are priority seats (called 博愛座 or "universal love" seats in Chinese). Passengers must yield these seats to seniors, pregnant women, or those who need special assistance.
English language support for the city bus system is not perfect. Although bus stop signs do post the name of the stop in English, the route maps and bus frequency information are written in Chinese. Nevertheless, buses have electronic signs that alternate the displaying of information in Chinese and English. Maps at the MRT station do provide notable bus destinations in English. Still, it is recommended that you bring the name of the destination in Chinese in case you need to communicate with the bus driver.
It can also be difficult for a non-local to determine the destination that the bus driving at one side of the street is heading towards. This is because the final destination at either direction is displayed on the bus at the same time.
During the bus journey, the name of the next stop will be shown on LED information displayer twice while leaving the previous stop and approaching the next one. Sometimes it will be accompanied with electronic verbal announcements in Mandarin, Min Nan (Southern Min or Hokkien), and English.
More information about the bus system can be found at the Taipei Bus and Transportation Information System website.
Taipei has an extensive and well-used Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) or metro system that consists of underground and elevated rail routes, making up of a total of 6 lines at present. Operating hour of MRT is 6:00~24:00, and the headway during 6:00~23:00 is about 3~7 minutes. After 23:00, the headway is reduced to about 15 minutes. Non-discounted ticket fares range from NT$20 to NT$65. Note MRT group ticket (團體票) discounts: 20% off for 10 or more people, 30% off for 40 or more.
MRT announcements are made in Mandarin, Min Nan (Hokkien), Hakka, and English. Taipei MRT is arguably the most English-language friendly transporation system in Taiwan, with all directions, warnings, and instructions provided in both Chinese and English.
Male, female, handicap, and family restroom signs are respectively indicated by gigantic pictures of a man, woman, person on a wheelchair, and a family. Every station has one or more restrooms, although some of which are located in paid area and others are located outside the paid area.
- Please do not drink, eat, or chew gum on the MRT system, even though you are allowed to bring food. A special yellow line before the fare gates indicates where you have to stop drinking or chewing.
- Photography and cell phones are permitted; cell phone reception exists in the underground lines.
- Pets may ride the MRT, but must be placed inside a kennel or be partially inside a bag or backpack.
- Guide dogs may ride without any restrictions.
- Bicycles may only be placed at the first or last car of the train. Certain stations do not permit bringing bicycles through the fare gates.
- Unless there is a critical emergency, do not press the emergency system-wide halt button.
Unlike the Washington, DC Metro system where police may fine or arrest those who violate regulations, Taipei MRT passengers are first given verbal or sign-language warnings if they violate non-critical regulations such as chewing gum.
Taxis, which are yellow and can easily be hailed on the street, are abundant in Taipei. Unfortunately most taxi drivers do not speak English: therefore, have someone to write your destination on a card in Chinese and show it to the driver.
- Toll free taxi hotline (non-mobile phones): 0800-055-850
- Non-toll free taxi hotline for mobile phones: 55850
- Dial 2 for English service followed by 2 to select a taxi company at random.
- NT$70 for the first 1.5 km
- NT$5 for each 300m after 1.5 km
- NT$5 for each accumulated 2 mins. at a driving speed under 5 km/hr
- NT$10 for calling a taxi
- NT$10 for placing baggage in the trunk
- 20% surcharge on taxi fare during 23:00~6:00