Practical Life in Taipei


Transport in Taipei


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Taipei is the major industrial centre of Taiwan and is well served by area transportation. Railways, high speed rail, highways, airports, metro, and bus lines connect Taipei with all parts of the island. Taipei residents have the highest utilization rate of public transport users for Taiwan at 34.1%.

Taipei Station is the hub for the subway, bus, conventional rail, and high speed rail.

The easiest way to pay for public transport is through the EasyCard which can be used for all modes of public transit and contain credits that are deducted each time a ride is taken. The EasyCard is read via proximity sensory panels on buses and in MRT stations, and it does not need to be removed from one's wallet or purse.
As of April 1st, 2010, EasyCards can now be used to pay for purchases at some stores including as 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Cosmed, OK Mart, Hi-Life, Starbucks, and Pacific SOGO. The EasyCard can now be used at over 10,000 retail outlets throughout Taiwan.
EasyCards can be purchased at all metro stations and some convenience stores. Value can be added in multiples of NT$100 and each card can hold up to NT$10,000 of value.

    Types of EasyCard
  • Adult: Standard fare cards cost NT$500 (this is inclusive of a NT$400 balance and NT$100 deposit). Unused fees and the deposit are refundable.
  • Student: These cards also cost NT$500, but the public buses are discounted at NT$12 rather than NT$15.
  • Concessionaire: These cards are reserved for children, seniors over 65 years of age, and disabled persons. It offers discounts depending on the service used.
  • Taipei Pass: A special-purpose card that allows for unlimited travel on the metro and associated bus services and three trips on the Maokong Gondola. The pass is sold as a one-day, two-day, three-day, or five-day pass. It expires on midnight of the expiry date. Buses that accept the card will display a TaipeiPass identification sticker

Metro

Taipei's public transport system, the Taipei Metro (commonly referred to as the MRT), incorporates a metro and light rail system. It is a very clean, efficient and safe Mass Rapid Transit system. The system also includes the Maokong Gondola, underground shopping malls, parks, and public squares.

Stations and trains are clearly identified in Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka and English. Most stations have information booth/ticket offices close to the ticket vending machines. Waiting areas are monitored by security cameras for safety. There is no eating or drinking while in the stations or on the trains. Trains generally run from 6AM to midnight, with convenient bus connections outside the stations.

Routes

    6 lines
  • Danshui Line
  • Xindian Line
  • Zhonghe Line
  • Nangang/Banqiao Line
  • Muzha Line
  • Neihu Line

Further lines are being developed.

Tickets

IC Tokens: These single-use RFID tokens can be bought from ticket vending machines in each station. They are valid only on the day of purchase.

One-Day Pass: This card allows for unlimited Taipei Metro travel. They are valid from the first use until the end of service on the same day (not including the Maokong Gondola). Value cannot be added and it costs NT$200 (inclusive of a NT$50 deposit). The deposit can be collected if the card is returned within three days of the first use.

Group Ticket: These are available for groups of 10 or more at a 20% discount, or groups of 40 or more at a 30% discount. These cannot be refunded once issued and require passengers to enter through the "Group Ticket Entrance/Exit".

Single Journey Ticket for Cyclists: At a cost of NT$80, this allows for one person to bring a bicycle into the system (at select stations). It is only issued/valid at certain times, and no funds can be given once issued.

EasyCard: These cards are stored value cards for contactless electronic payment. Users of the card on the Taipei Metro are required to pass the card over the EasyCard sensor area on faregates both entering and leaving the stations; the first pass registers the start of the journey and the second as the end. Fare is deducted from the card depending on the distance traveled and whether a public bus was used within a transfer time frame.
Fares on the Taipei Metro are based on distance, with a 20% discount over single journey tokens, and if you transfer from the MRT to an ordinary city bus, or vice versa, within an hour, the bus ride is only NT$7. The discount is automatically calculated when you leave the MRT station. Student cards with even deeper discounts are also available for purchase, but only upon request at a desk and a student ID.

Occasionally there are limited-edition cards issued by the transit authority depicting artwork's, famous characters, landscapes, etc. These are quite collectible and are perfect souvenirs.

Gondola

The Maokong Gondola System is shaped like the number ‘7’ and extends over 4.03km of hills south of Taipei. It is the first suspended system in the city with four passenger stations: Taipei Zoo Station, Taipei Zoo South Station, Zhinan Temple Station and Maokong Station. This new mode of transportation offers fast and convenient access to the Maokong area. It also minimizes pollution and disruption of the quiet, beautiful environment.
It takes about 20-30 min. to complete a one way journey. Each cabin is designed to carry 8 passengers and maximum hourly traffic in the system is 2,000 people.

Metro: http://www.taipeitravel.net/

Bus

Intercity

An extensive city bus system serves metropolitan areas not covered by the metro, with exclusive bus lanes. There are several major bus terminals, including Taipei Bus Station which is located on Chengde Road, behind Taipei Main Station and Taipei City Hall Bus Station.

Buses usually display information (such as destination and stop names) in English. Route maps, however, are almost entirely in Chinese. Tourist offices can provide guidance. You will need to hail the bus as it approaches. The government run buses are blue and white and are called guoguang hao. They are comfortable, punctual, and maintain clean facilities on board.

Private Buses

Some buses are operated by private companies. These tend to be more comfortable and offer amenities of reclining seats and individual game and video monitors. Private buses are usually known as keyun and can be identified by the fact that they do not have a route number, but only the name of the destination.

Routes

The schedule can be accessed at Today's Schedule (Chinese).

Tickets

You may pay when getting on the bus or sometimes when getting off. There is an electronic red sign above the driver that indicates which method. If the Chinese character for "up" is lit, pay when you get on. If the same sign is lit when you get off, you do not need to pay again. However, if the sign is displaying the Chinese character for "down" when you are getting off, then you will need to pay a second time. Of course, you can always let the locals go first and follow their lead.

Payment can be made by cash (NT$15) or EasyCard (see below) for each section that the bus passes through. For local buses the maximum distance is two sections with a total cost of NT$30. If you are transferring from the transit system to a bus within one hour, there is a discounted bus fare.

EasyCard

When paying bus fare, the EasyCard machine prevents repeated transactions on the same card until the bus travels into the next paying sector. The bus driver can decide to reset cards to pay for another passenger. Transfers between the metro and bus systems offer 20% discounts which are automatically taken when the card is scanned. The EasyCard can be used on bus systems in Taipei, Taipei County, and Keelung. Senior EasyCard passengers enjoy a 60% discount on base fares.

Bus: http://www.taipeibus.com.tw/

Train

High-Speed

The Taiwan High Speed Rail system is based on Japanese Shinkansen technology. It covers the 345 km (215 mi) route on the West Coast from Taipei to Zuoying (Kaohsiung) in 90 min. Also connects with Banciao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, and Tainan. Slower (but more frequent) commuter trains without reserved seating are also available. There is often little to choose between prices and destination times for adjacent train classes, but the gap can be quite large between the fastest and the slowest.

Bookings are accepted online and via phone up to two weeks in advance at +886-2-6626-8000 (English spoken). Note that booking online only establishes a reservation as there is no Internet payment option. Payment is required upon picking up the tickets. The online services only work between 8AM and 9PM and there is a charge of about $7 for online bookings. Credit cards are accepted.

Round island tourist rail passes are also available which allow the holder to embark and disembark a set number of times for a fixed price are also available at most larger train stations. A foreign passport may be required for purchase.

The Taiwan Railway Administration runs passenger and freight services throughout the entire island.

    Common Trains
  • Tzu-Chiang: The fastest (and most expensive). Assigned seating. Non-reserved (standing) tickets are also sold at full price.
  • Chu-Kuang: Second fastest. Assigned seating.
  • Fu-hsing: Third fastest. Assigned seating. Non-reserved tickets are sold at 80% of original price.
  • EMU (Electric multiple unit) and DRC (Diesel railcar): Short to medium distance commuter train, stops at all stations. No assigned seating.
  • Express / Ordinary: Stops at all stations, no air conditioning, most inexpensive. No assigned seating. Some Express trains (the light blue ones running on West Trunk Line) are air-conditioned while others (dark blue ones) are not equipped with air conditioners.
  • Diesel Express: Only available on East Trunk Line and South Link Line. Mainly serve as commuter trains. No air conditioning. Tickets are the same price as Express and Ordinary.

Local

All inter-city trains, including those operated by the Taiwan High Speed Rail, arrive at and depart from Taipei Railway Station on Zhongxiao West Road.
B1 - platforms
First Floor - Ticket counters, a tourist office, small supermarket, post office, stores selling aboriginal handicrafts, and several booths offering head and neck and full body massage (NT$100 for every ten minutes).
Second Floor - a food court and MRT stations serving three lines
5th floor- auditorium

For travel to nearby cities, the electric dianche commuter trains are the best option. These arrive about once every ten to fifteen minutes. In addition to seats, "standing tickets" may be purchased and cost 80% the original ticket price.

Tip: Make a note of your destination station in Chinese for an easier time locating it.

EasyCard

All passenger trains allow payment with the EasyCard with a 10% discount (rounded up). The card can currently be used on TRA trains from Keelung to Jhongli.
The only trains where the EasyCard cannot be used are the full seat-reserved trains such Taroko Express, group trains, tourism trains and specified operating trains.

Train: http://www.railway.gov.tw/

Airports

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport- All scheduled international flights are served by this airport. The name was originally Chiang Kai Shek International Airport (often abbreviated as CKS) and is still sometimes used.

Songshan Airport- Located in the Songshan District of Taipei, this airport serves mostly domestic flights. Songshan Airport is also the base of certain Republic of China Air Force units.

Transportation from the Airport

There are four transportation options at the airport: bus, high speed rail, taxi, and private car. An MRT line is under construction, but it will not be completed until February, 2011.

Bus

Express airport buses: cost between NT$120 and NT$150 depending on the bus company, and there are stops at both terminals. Most routes are divided into West and East. Ticket counters display route maps showing all stops.
The western line bus terminates at Taipei Main Railway Station and also makes a stop at Yuanshan MRT Station on the Xindian line. The eastern line terminates at the Taipei Grand Hyatt Hotel and make a stop at Zhongxiao-Fuxing MRT Station on the Nangang and Muzha lines.

Non-Express Buses: Much cheaper with tickets starting at $30. Passes through Taoyuan, Nankan, and Kueishan before arriving in Taipei.

Train

There is a bus that runs approximately every 15 minutes from the airport to the Taoyuan High Speed Rail station. From there, you can take a HSR trains to Taipei Main Station and navigate from there. The train is approximately NT$160.

Taxi

A one-way taxi fare between the airport and Taipei will usually cost at least NT$900, generally NT$1000-$1200 from the airport.

Private Car

A one-way, pre-arranged car fare between the airport and Taipei will usually cost between NT$1300-$1500. These rides can be arranged through your hotel or travel agent. Since the cost is only slightly more then a taxi, it is highly recommended.

Taiwanese Airlines

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is the main international hub for China Airlines and EVA Air. China Airlines has a relatively poor safety record (12 major crashes in 30 years). EVA Air is ranked one of the safest airlines in the world.

Taxis

Taking a taxi in Taipei offers a flexible way to get around. You don't need to look for a taxi - they'll be looking for you. They can easily be spotted and are the standard yellow. To hail one, simply place your hand in front of you parallel to the ground. Taxis will often stop for possible passengers crossing the street or waiting for a bus. In less heavily trafficked areas, taxis are always available by calling taxi dispatch centres. The toll free taxi hotline is 0800-055850 (maintained by Department of Transportation). If you do call a taxi dispatch centre, you will be given a taxi number to identify the vehicle when it arrives.

Most taxi drivers speak limited English, and it is best for non-Chinese speakers to be equipped with their destination written down in Chinese and a foreign language dictionary. Taiwanese taxi drivers are notorious for offering strong opinions on politics. However, if you do not speak Chinese they will usually be unable to share their opinion.

Price

Though cheaper then average taxi prices in most countries, they are an expensive option when compared to Taipei mass transit. Taxis are visibly metered, with higher rates for night fares (an additional NT$20 over the meter). A maximum of four people can ride in one cab for the price of one. Tipping is neither necessary nor expected.

Safety

The badge and taxi driver identification should be displayed inside the cab and the license number marked on the outside. Passengers in the front seat of the taxi are required to buckle their seat belts. Drivers may chew betel nut, a stimulant. This can appear odd as it can give the appearance of blood when spat in the street.

Women may be warned against taking a taxis alone at night, but it is usually quite safe. Do not get in if the driver doesn't have a license with picture clearly displayed in the cab.

Ferry and Port

As of 2008, all scheduled passenger ferry services between Taiwan and Japan have been suspended. However, Star Cruises operates limited cruise services from Keelung and Kaohsiung to Hong Kong and various Japanese islands.

At Mawei harbor in Fuzhou, you can buy an inclusive ticket to Taipei that includes the Fuzhou to Matsu ferry and a domestic flight from Matsu to Taipei (or Taichung). The price is 780RMB and includes transfer between port and airport on Matsu, and a coupon for lunch at the airport. The ferry leaves Fuzhou at 9:30AM.

Another option are two daily ferries to Matsu from Fuzhou, China. The ferry costs ¥350 from China and $1300 from Taiwan. The trip takes approx. two hours.
From here, there are two daily ferries to Keelung in Taiwan. The fare is $1050 and includes a bed, as the trip takes 10 hours. Bookings can be made at +886 2 2424 6868

Wharfs

Dadaocheng Wharf
Located near the No. 5 Water Gate, this wharf is located on the banks of the Danshui River. Once a stop for tea, cotton and silk sales, this area is now a tourist destination and departure point for boat tours along the Danshui River.
Telephone: 886-2-2558-5519
Open Time: Four boat departures daily on weekends; Weekday service for groups with advance appointment or for 10 or more individual passengers. Departure times are affected by river tides so please call ahead for updated service schedules.
Transportation: Take the No. 9, 206, 274, 641, 669, or 704 bus to Dadaocheng Wharf; or the 255, 518, or 539 bus to the intersection of Minsheng W. Rd. and then follow Minsheng W. Rd. towards the river (about 10 minutes on foot)
MRT Station: From Shuanglian Station take the Red 33 bus to Dadaocheng Wharf.

Guandu Wharf
Guandu Wharf is located on the Danshui River between Guanyinshan and Datun Mountain. Once the landing point for many mainland Chinese immigrants, the river has since become more shallow with deposits of silt, but is still a point of boat traffic.
Ticket:
Guandu–Dadaocheng: Adults NT$150, Half-fare NT$120
Guandu Wharf Loop Tour: Adults NT$450; Half-fare NT$ 350
Guandu–Bali: Adults NT$110; Half-fare NT$55
Guandu -Danshui Old Street: Adults NT$110, Half-fare NT$55; Taipei Shipping Co. Adults NT$110, Half-fare NT$55
Guandu -Fisherman's Wharf: Adults NT$160, Half-fare NT$80
Transportation:
Bus: Take the No. 216 or 302 to Guandu Temple and follow the riverbank for about five minutes.
Car: From downtown Taipei, head north on Chengde Rd. past Dadu Rd. and Zhixing Road and then follow the signs to Guandu Wharf.
MRT Station: MRT: From Guandu Station, take the Red 35 or Minibus 23 bus to Guandu Wharf.

Dajia Wharf
Located on the Keelung River next to Dajia Riverside Park, boat rides are available. When heading east, the trip goes past Dazhi Bridge, the Miramar Ferris wheel, Neihu Technology Park, and Taipei 101. West-bound, the boat passes The Grand Hotel, Taipei Children's Recreation Center, Chientan Overseas Youth Activity Center, and Sanjiaodu Wharf. This is also the site of an annual dragon boat competition during the Dragon Boat Festival.
Telephone: 886-2-2928-4665
Open Time: Boat departure times vary with the tide schedule (Inquire with boat operators for updated tour times)
Ticket: Boat Tours: NT$120 (Adults), NT$60 (Children,Seniors and Persons with Disabilities) Transportation: Take the Brown 16, 33, 49, 72, 222, or 286 bus to Dajia Elementary School and walk about 15 minutes from the Dajia Evacuation Gate.

Car

Driving within Taipei can be a harrowing experience. Traffic jams, difficulty finding good parking, many scooters and bicycles, and chaotic roads can be a nightmare for visitors navigating the city. Public transportation is also readily available, decreasing the need to drive. However, driving is an excellent way to traverse the rest of Taiwan and can offer a unique view of the country.

The most common car is Toyota Altis. Toyotas and Hondas are popular as there are assembly factories in Taiwan.

Necessary Documents

    International Driving License
  • Taiwan Driver’s License
  • A national driver’s license from your home country (if you have an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) and your home country has a reciprocal agreement with Taiwan)

International Driving License- This may be used for up to 30 days. After this point drivers need to apply for a local permit. Some municipalities may impose additional restrictions, so check ahead with the rental shop or local authorities.

Taiwan Driver’s License- If you have a driver’s license from your home country, you may directly apply for a Taiwanese Driver’s License, depending if your country has a reciprocal agreement with Taiwan (check with your embassy). If your country does not have such an agreement with Taiwan you can take a test (oral and practical tests).

    Department of Motor Vehicle Application Requirements:
  • ARC (Alien Resident Certificate)
  • Passport
  • 3 passport size photos (2.4cm by 3cm)
  • Cash for fees (variable)
  • Physical/eye exam (at clinic or public hospital)

NOTE: Licenses are only issued for the length of your ARC (typically 1 yr). You must renew the license before it expires or take the tests again. For renewal, bring your ARC, two recent passport-sized photos and NT$200.

Department of Motor Vehicles Office in Taipei
21, Ba De Road, Section 4
Taipei, Taiwan
Tel : (02) 2763-0155

Safety

While there is little respect for traffic laws, there are increasing numbers of police roadblocks checking riders for alcohol consumption and other offenses.

Traffic can be a serious hazard. It is nearly constant and drivers routinely push their way into spaces, randomly change lanes, and drive recklessly compared to other places. It is not unusual for 2 lane roads to become 3 lane as cars elbow in. Horns blare frequently as Taiwanese driver indicates that they do not intend to accommodate a driver trying to encroach on their lane.

The guiding principles is that the right of way belongs to the larger vehicle (trucks have the right-of-way over cars, cars over motorcycles, motorcycles over people, etc). Regardless of this "rule", many motorcycle riders zip through any space, no matter how small. Motorcycles also tend to drive through areas intended as pedestrian-only spaces. Pedestrians, as the smallest "vehicle" on the road have reason to be wary. Look both ways even on a one-way street. The little green man on cross lights indicate when it is time to cross, but motorists may still try to turn.

Despite the chaos, crashes are infrequent as the drivers seem to have adopted a hyper vigilant driving state.

Roads

The Taipei address system is very logical. Taipei street names appear in Chinese characters and Romanized lettering. The hub of the city is the corner of the east-west running Zhongxiao and north-south running Zhongshan Roads. Roads radiate from here, with only one major point of confusion; the north/south divide is made at Zhongxiao here, further east it is made instead at Bade Road. For example, all sections of the north-south running Fuxing Rd north of Bade are called Fuxing North Rd. to the South, those sections are called Fuxing South Rd. Those that cross Zhongshan road are similarly identified as either east or west. In section duan, numbers begin at "one" near the two defining roads and increase at intersections of major highways. For example, on Ren'ai Rd (which has only an east location and therefore does not have a direction suffix) Section 1 will be close to Zhongshan South Rd. When Ren'ai Rd reaches Dunhua South Rd in the east of the city, a typical address could be:
7F, 166 Ren'ai Rd
Section 4

Most traffic signs are in international symbols, but many signs show names of places and streets in Chinese only.

The highways are generally in excellent shape. There are several toll stations which cost about $40. Tickets may be purchased at most convenience stores allowing for faster passage.

Scooter or Motorcycle

Scooters with an engine size of 50cc require a license to drive. They should also be insured and registered in the owner's name. This makes it difficult for foreign nationals with stays less than 30 days to operate.

Many of the scooters within cities are only 50cc and incapable of going faster than 80 km/h (50 mph). The more powerful versions known as zhongxing (heavy format) are now quite common and can be rented for short-term use, or found for sale. They are not allowed on freeways even if they are capable of going faster than 100 km/h (62 mph).

It should be possible to rent a scooter by the day, week or month. In Taipei, the only place legally renting scooters and motorbikes to foreigners is the Bikefarm. To rent, you must provide identification. The average price you may expect is $400 for 24 hours and comes with a helmet.

Parking

Parking is notoriously difficult and drivers can be quite aggressive.

EasyCards are accepted in government-run parking lots and some privately-run parking lots. Charges are in quarter-hour increments.

Rental

To rent a car in Taiwan you must be 21 years old and have proof of a license. Some car rental companies allow customers to return cars at more than one outlet with additional service charge applied. Most rental fees do not include insurance.

Major rental car agencies can be located at the airport, train stations, or through international hotels which provide car rental service for visitors.

    Rental Companies:
  • VIP Rentals- Rents cars to foreigners and will deliver the car to a given destination. A deposit is often required, and the last day of rental is not pro-rated, but calculated on a per-hour basis at a separate (higher) rate.
  • Chailease Auto Rental
  • Expedia
  • Destinia

City Map: http://163.29.36.21/eGISmap/index.aspx?slang=en-us
Road Map: http://www.placesonline.com/asia/taiwan/taipei/map.asp

Bicycle

Until fairly recently, the bicycle has been seen as a sign of less prosperous times. However, the bicycle is an extremely efficient way to travel through Taipei. Several bike paths have recently been constructed. Drivers do tend to be reckless so it is important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. A Taipei City Cycling Map shows well designated bike routes. Bicycles can also be carried on the Taipei metro but only at certain times and via certain stations.

The Taipei City Department of Transportation offers YouBike bicycle rental stations to help visitors get around the city.

    For short-term use:
  • First 30 mins free, NT$10 for each additional 15 mins
  • 1 Day NT$40
  • 5 Days NT$150
  • Deposit- Credit Card NT$3,000
  • Long term:
  • 1 Month NT$500
  • 6 Months NT$1,000
  • 1 Year NT$1,500
  • Deposit Type- No deposit (2 pieces of ID and ID copy required)

For other bike rentals, try
http://www.taipeitravel.net/

For more maps of bicycle trails, go to
http://www.taipeitravel.net/

Update 10/12/2010


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