The Taipei MRT is Your Best Friend – Part 2

If you ever find yourself walking along the streets of Taipei and you suddenly see this:

Be warned. The descending steps will lead you to…

the other side of the road. Period.

So if it’s the Taipei MRT station you’re searching for, check for these land marks instead:

The Taipei MRT logo (in blue) and the yellow entrance/exit number.

Before you get inside the MRT station, make sure you’ve already finished eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing the heck out of your betel nut if that’s also your thing. Eating anything and drinking anything (they say water’s fine but I’d rather really not test) after you’ve gone through the fare gates is strictly prohibited.

While you need to go on a diet of sorts (in the meantime), there are other things that you can enjoy inside an MRT station. Some have convenience stores and boutiques you can grab stuff from. You can also check out the following facilities in case you need internet connection, are stripped for cash, or need to empty thy full bladder/stomach.

WiFi hotspot and charging station

Use Taipei’s free WiFi right on your mobile device. Just look for the TPE-Free hotspot on your tablet/phone/laptop then connect. Once connected, sign up on the home page using your mobile number and key-in your preferred password.

ATM Machines

If you need to withdraw some cash from your non-Taiwan debit/credit card, just look for the Cathay United Bank ATM machines. They are usually located near the fare booths. If your debit card bears the VISA, VISA Electron, Master, or JCB logos, you can use these ATMs to withdraw. Check with your local bank first on how much international fees apply.

Clean restrooms

Investigation alert remains a mystery to me…

Be ready to occupy squat toilets though. Some MRT stations only have the usual toilet seat booths for PWD passengers.

My Eight Commandments to Riding the MRT Taipei

By observing a few unwritten rules, you will be a pro passenger in no time. So I share to you my own list of musts and should-avoids when taking the train. Doing them helped me foster a BFF status with the MRT Taipei lines.

1. Do not eat or drink or do anything with your mouth except answer calls, talk, or yawn while inside the MRT station. The only place you are allowed to replenish your tummy and dried throat is inside a convenience store, if there’s one.

Trust me, you wouldn’t want to get one of this…

2. Stay on the right side when taking the stairs or escalator. The left is for people who are in a hurry.

3. When taking the stairs or escalator, don’t look for the easiest way to get on them. Look for the last person standing on the escalator line. Allow some distance between you and the person before you prior to using the stairs. You do not cut escalator queue lines. You don’t bookmark yourself between two people. You wait for a few seconds and line up like a decent respectable person.

4. The white lines on the platform’s waiting line tells you where to queue. So queue.

5. If you cross the yellow line on the platform, you will also cross the orange people. Seriously. A whistle blows and just like that you’re reputation is lost.

6. If you have some trash you want to throw, you can look for these steel cans on the platform. But read the labels first to know what kind of trash you’re throwing.

7. Inside the MRT car, the dark blue seats are reserved for the following people: old folks, pregnant women, the disabled, children, women with children.

8. Always be prepared to yield your light-blue seat to the people mentioned above. You will be surprised with how many old folks would refuse what you give them. Even so, smile sincerely and try to respectfully persuade them to take your seat. Most of them have that certain sense of pride but deep down, they would rather sit than endure standing up. Just prod a little. When they give in, it’s kind of sweet actually.

Don’t Get Lost

While on the platform, you should check for these things to make sure you are on the right side.

While inside, check the LED sign on the doors. Wait for a bit until the English words show up. Destination simply tells you the end of the line for that MRT ride. What you need to see is the “Next Station” as it tells you where the car stops next.

“Next Station: Shilin”
The LED here indicates the final stop for this train ride.

As you hop off, you will see numbered signs on top of your head. They pertain to the exit number you can take so that you’ll be off the right way to your destination.

Take advantage of the maps that you also see on the Taipei MRT. They are pretty detailed and user-friendly so you would be able to navigate your way by yourself. They also include the bus routes that are available near the station.

So there! I think that pretty much sums up the stuff I think you ought to know about the Taipei MRT. Now go and explore it on your own. Just remember that the Information Counters and the orange people are always ready to assist you should you run into any trouble. But I think as long as you don’t eat/drink/smoke/chew gum or candy inside you’ll be just fine.

And if you’re lucky, cruising along the Red Line will let you witness some amazing sunsets and Taipei’s night scene.

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