Taipei's subway system, known as the MRT or 大眾捷運 (dàzhòngjiéyùn), is one of the most efficient and effective public transportation systems in the world. There are stations within a kilometer of anything worth visiting in Taipei, meaning travelers and residents can both rely on it as a standard means of transportation. Though taxis are cheap in Taipei, the MRT is so easy, cheap, and fast, there is no reason not to take advantage of it.
Why Bother Getting an Easy Card?
- You get a 20% discount on all MRT rides.
- It's faster than buying tokens for each ride.
- It works on buses, allowing you to avoid embarrassing dropped-change bus disasters.
- Works on various other public transportation, such as the TRA train and Maokong Gondola.
- Necessary to use U-Bikes.
- It's cheap and quick to purchase, meaning you will earn time and money dividends by your first use.
- The card can be refunded for the remaining balance plus deposit, resulting in a net gain of all your discounted rides.
Purchasing an Easy Card
An Easy Card can be purchased at the Information Counter in all Taipei MRT stations, or in most convenience stores such as 7-ELEVEN, FamilyMart, Hi-Life, and OK. Just say "Easy Card" or "Yo-Yo card" and they should understand. Failing that, show them the picture at the top of this post.
The card costs 500NTD. 400 of that will be in your card, to be used as fare, with 100 being a "deposit." This deposit can be returned, as well as any balance remaining on the card, at the end of your trip.
Most tourists or workers in Taiwan will want to get the adult card, however, if you are a student, there is another card available for you.
Using an Easy Card
At each MRT gate, there is a card-sized sensor with one of these images on it:
Put your card flat on this symbol and the gate should beep and open.
If there is an issue, try a different orientation of the card, flip it over, etc. If you continue to get errors, it's possible that your card has a negative balance, or there is some structural issue. Take it to the information desk.
On a bus, there will be a machine at the front with this symbol on it. Sometimes you will use the card when you get on, other times, when you get off. Observe what the other passengers are doing, but 80% of the time you use the card when getting off the bus.
Refilling an Easy Card
There are large machines, usually next to the Token machines, in every MRT station that allow you to add value to your card. Press the "English" button, sometimes only available after you put your card in or on the machine, and follow the instructions. The Cathay Bank Machines also work for adding value.
|A Cathy Bank machine in the MRT|
You can also refill your card at any convenience store and at any information counter.
Refunding an Easy Card
Refunding the Easy Card allows you to recoup the remaining balance of the card, plus the 100NTD deposit, minus a 20NTD handling fee. Your money can be gotten instantly if you give the card to any Information Counter in a Taipei MRT station. Otherwise, you can mail it in from a 7/11, but this will cost postage and isn't really worth your time.
Easy Card Website: http://www.easycard.com.tw/english/index.asp
Taipei MRT Wikipedia Page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taipei_mrt