The ever-expanding Taipei MRT pretty much goes everywhere you want to get to. This is the current network in service. VERY VERY USEFUL for travelers!
As you read this blog, the construction of new lines and stations are being worked upon. Most people have not seen this, but here it is just for you to feast your eyes on. This is how it will be like in the near future, a sophisticated underground network of trains and tracks, not unlike the complex subway system of Tokyo (Japan)!
Trains are comfortable and you can usually get a seat except during peak hours. Signage is bilingual and announcements are actually quadlingual (Mandarin, English, Taiwanese and Hakka!). Most places within the city are within about 20 minutes walk of an MRT station. Our one complain though is that we wish the MRT would run later than 1am, what with all the nightlife running about Taipei.
MRT fares are based on distance and are affordable. The base fare is NT20 and the longest trip fare is about NT65.
Jetstar had given us a bonus of an Easy Card, the Taipei Rapid Transit Associations (TRTA) stored-value card, with a pre-loaded value of NT50. This gave us a 20% discount on MRT fares. Additionally, when we transferred between the MRT and a bus, the bus ride is half-price!
Besides being extra allowance for our holiday commuting, the EasyCards given to us were limited edition ones.
Taipei’s bus system is decidedly harder to figure out as compared with the MRT, mostly because there are so many more bus lines than there are subway lines. There are several types of buses, run by several companies, although that didn’t matter to us as we could use our Easy Card on all the buses to pay our bus fares.
Fares are NT15 on most routes within the city centre, though that can double or triple on longer routes. If the sign over the fare box reads 上 that means you pay getting on; 下 means you pay the fare when alighting the bus.
Taipei’s distinctive yellow taxis are metered and charge by distance and waiting time. Base fare is NT70 for the first 1.5km plus NT5 for each 300m thereafter. The charges after midnight are slightly more. Taxis also charge NT5 for every 2 minutes (cumulative) that the car is idle.
We didn’t have any trouble finding a taxi in the city centre when we needed one as they were everywhere. If an approaching taxi is available it will have a red light shining out through the windscreen that says that it is “空” empty.
The MRT-Walk combo or MRT-Bus combo can fulfill any commute, and is very kind on the wallet.
Save the taxi rides for those trips to hard to reach outskirts, or after-midnight commutes.