Experiencing the Taichung BRT (updated)

UPDATE: As of editing this post (August 10, 2015), local friends say that the Taichung BRT has been stopped due to political issues. 🙁 Anyway, at least I was able to experience its full free glory.

I went to Taichung to visit the 2015 Lantern Festival, which they are officially hosting this year. Latern Festival’s actually happening island-wide but the main event was held this year in Taichung. Well, that was the plan. But soon as stepped foot on the train platform by 6PM, I just accepted the fact that it ain’t gonna happen coz I need to be back in Taipei the same night.

All’s good, because I was still able to enjoy something new from Taichung. This time it was their BRT.

The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is Taichung’s response to the familiar MRT lines now running along Taipei and Kaohsiung, respectively. Reportedly, Taichung opted for this transport system because it was cheaper to build than the MRT lines. According to plan, the BRT will run along several color-coded lines which can easily be associated with the way the Taipei and Kaohsiung MRTs were organized.
The big difference? It’s a bus that don’t need rails and run on the same exact roads that other public and private vehicles run on. They’ve just completed the first line (Blue Line) last year. My friend said that there’s some issues hounding the BRT right now that it’s not exactly sure if the rest of the project will be completed. Anyway, the good news is that the blue BRT line is still running and will be running for free until August 2015—one year free transpo since it’s official opening.

The blue line runs straight along the city. So if you took the local TRA to Taichung, you can definitely take advantage of the BRT to check out the modern parts of Taichung’s commercial district. It’s pretty fascinating too, to see how the old Taichung eventually becomes a modernized county as you journey further into the heart of the city via the BRT.

Inside the bus is pretty crowded so I didn’t really get to see its entirety. But based from my afternoon ride from the Taichung TRA to the National Museum of Natural Science to the Maple Valley Park then back to Taichung TRA, seems like the bus’ internal design is a hybrid of a modern Taipei bus and the Taiwan’s MRT lines.
The bus was always full, as expected, but it’s not that hard to get on and off. People are generally giving and are willing to move down to let passengers get off—that’s actually one of the things I appreciate here in Taiwan. There’s a conscientiousness so rooted within every local that they automatically organize themselves to behave like humans should. Again, I wish we have more of this quality back in Pinas. 
The BRT is also conveniently linked to sidewalks so passengers can ride safely since there are other vehicles passing beside the designated BRT roads. 

The entire trip from one station to another takes roughly around 3 minutes. It only stops to observe the same traffic rules per stop light, or to finally stop by a BRT station. Other than those two conditions, the BRT will move along and never stop at your own wish. 
The BRT runs along its own line on the road, except when it enters the last journey between the Qihu station to Taichung TRA. It has to merge with the small road and has no designated BRT line so you finally get to experience the usual kind road of traffic that turns the BRT into an ordinary bus. 
But before that, the BRT runs smoothly and hassle-free along the road that make up much of its commercial district.



I’ve also been surprised to see that the familiar U-Bikes in Taipei are now in Taichung too. You can also use your EasyCard to rent one.
Seeing the BRT and the new U-Bikes made me want to come back to do a proper tour of Taichung. I’ve been here a few times already, but only managed to scratch the surface of this county’s real beauty. I haven’t even tried going to the famed Fengyuan night market yet! Anyway, I think I will be back soon. And who knows, maybe soon means my next post would be about a day tour (finally!) of Taichung. 🙂

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