I have had the pleasure of experiencing a variety of subway systems, and in all that experience, I have to say I was stunned by the beauty of of Tapei's MTR and how in comparison to others, it functions well and is all around nice (wish we had that SF). To help potential tourists out, this is a rough guide map, as I learned, how their MTR system functions.
Pass or One-Way
Just like all MTR systems, there are two options you have: single or double journey tickets, or the pass. I can’t speak on the pricing or benefits of the pass just yet, but I’ve used the single journey coins and it’s quite simple to use and pretty great actually. When you get to a station, at the ticket kiosk is a map of all the routes. What I especially like about how their ticketing works is you don’t have to guess how much you need to pay and can just pay the exact amount to get where you need to go. From 20NTD to 60NTD, you can go all around Taipei, and even to neighboring cities with the MTR.
Let’s be real, if you live in SF and have ever gone anywhere, especially on muni or bart, you know what you are in for when it comes to how everything functions (or lack thereof) and the wonderful odor of pee filled throughout the surrounding air. In Taipei, it’s so much better. The trains are timely, usually a few minutes, and they even have a countdown clock to when the next one arrives. When the train is approaching, the barrier lights up letting passengers know it’s approaching, in addition, some stations also play music to show it’s approaching. It’s really nice and beautiful.
When you get on the train, it’s very orderly. I’ve experienced a lot of different situations, especially in Mainland China, where it’s a push to get on, a true first come first serve battle. In Taipei, no matter how crowded it got, it was very orderly and people weren’t shoving each other left and right. It was kind of nice, and it led to a great experience, which I tend not to have very often. The inside of the train is very clean and relaxing, with no smell barring whatever the people themselves smell of. The last thing as well which really adds to the experience is the lack of malfunctions the trains have. I went on many different trains, in many different parts, at different times, and in none of the situations were there any malfunctions which is very nice, and from a San Franciscan’s point of view, very foreign.
Transfers are easy and are color coded, so you know which place to get off. The train makes it easy letting everyone know that a transfer line is at the next stop, so be sure to keep an ear out as well as your eyes out for it.
Again this is an over generalized idea of the system as I used it over the course of a day. All I will say now is if you have the opportunity, use MTR. It’s not that expensive, and the experience is really nice and worth checking out.