Thursday, April 26, 2012

transportation update!

I NO LONGER HAVE TO KNOW CHINESE TO USE THE BUS! I remember the last time I posted about buses here in Taiwan was this post. Now I know better. Buses do have numbers! Haha. I can't believe I said the bus lines didn't have any numbers on them... Anyways back to why I no longer need Chinese to ride the bus... that is because of the EasyCard! Yes the same EasyCard that you buy to use the MRT line in Taipei, instead of buying a fare token each time. According to my students the EasyCard could be used on the Hsinchu buses starting from February 2012. All you do is tap the card to the machine when you get on and tap it when you get off. No longer will I need to tell the bus driver in Chinese what stop I'm getting off at. It's amazing because sometimes I slip into Cantonese when I say the stop name and the bus driver either doesn't get me or give me shit for it when I say it "properly" in Mandarin. You can reload your EasyCard at any of the convenience markets: 7-11, Hi-Mart, Family Mart, etc. You would think you can reload the card at the Hsinchu Bus Station but you can't. The Hsinchu Bus website doesn't even state that you can use the EasyCard on their buses so this information is first hand stuff - how local of me! Did I mention that the basic fare for the Hsinchu bus rose from $23 NT to $26?!? Ugh those three extra dollars were really crimping my style. Good thing the EasyCard gives me a 10% discount on rides so my basic fare drops back down to $23 again! Haha.

Now moving on to trains. Unlike Japan, different speed trains cost different prices in Taiwan. At first when I was in Japan I thought it odd that a faster train wouldn't be more expensive since it's taking less time to get from destination to destination. However it makes sense because how do you regulate who takes what train. Those turnstiles aren't gonna be like "hey you've arrived here too early for your slow train ticket so please stay inside the station." That is exactly why train lines in Japan charge fares based on distance since you can actually regulate that. I asked my TA in Taiwan how they regulate people using local trains compared to express trains and she had no clue. I ask this because we bought a semi-express train ticket and then rode a local train and nothing stopped us. Apparently some officers patrol the train but I haven't seen any of them check the ticket. Also if you're a foreigner can't you just play the "I'm a foreigner and I don't know Chinese card?" I found out that Express trains sell tickets with seat numbers so people can't just sneak on with a local ticket and expect a seat. However they still sell tickets for standing room to passengers so I could still purchase a local train ticket and hop onto an express train.