I rode the subway in Taiwan and saw why it's one of the best mass transit systems in the world

Martha SorrenTaiwan’s subway system was impressive.

  • The Taipei, Taiwan, metro is cheap, clean, and efficient.
  • You don’t ever have to wait longer than five minutes for a train.
  • The rest of the world could learn from Taiwan’s subway.

I lived in New York City for seven years, which means I know how terrible commuting on an inconsistent, overcrowded subway line can be. It’s also how I know that the metro in Taipei, Taiwan, is one of the best metros in the world.

The Taipei Mass Rapid Transit is relatively new to the country, first opening in the late ’90s. Its late start likely allowed it to avoid many pitfalls of bad subway systems.

Taipei’s metro is clean, organised, on time, and safe. I never waited more than five minutes for a train.

Here’s everything Taipei’s metro is doing right that the rest of the world needs to take notes on.

There’s no eating or drinking on the platforms or the trains.

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This is likely a huge reason why it stays so clean.

The train has individual handles to hold on to.

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And they’re at a height someone like me, who is 5-foot-2, can actually reach.

Navigation is a snap, even if you don’t speak the language.

Google Maps

Google Maps told me which train lines to take, and once you’re in the station, navigation is easy.

There are placards on the floor to tell you which trains are where.

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All the station stops are spelled out in Mandarin and English.

The colours on the signs outside stations tell you which train lines it connects to.

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The station pictured above is on the green line, and it connects to the yellow line. No need to memorise the metro map.

The platforms are safer because no one can fall into the tracks.

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Large doors and gates keep accidents from happening.

It has a nearly perfect punctuality rate.


According to Channel NewsAsia, the metro has fewer than 30 delays exceeding five minutes a year, giving it a nearly 100% punctuality rate in 2017.

During that same year, three-quarters of New York Subway lines were late more than 50% of the time, according to the New York Post, which cited MTA data.

That leaves customer satisfaction at a reported 95%.


“It’s very clean, and you don’t have to wait very long for a train to arrive,” one passenger told Channel NewsAsia.

The metro cards are durable, easy to use, and easy to refill.

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In Taipei you can buy plastic, credit-card-like metro cards at 7-Eleven. They come with a ton of fun designs and characters, and you can load them with money right at the convenience store.

To use your card, you simply tap it at the turnstile.

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No repeated swiping because you couldn’t get the speed quite right.

To refill, just place your card on a kiosk sensor and add coins or bills.

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It’s super simple. You can also use the cards to take buses or rent bikes.

It’s very inexpensive.

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Most of the stops are in the 20 to 30 new-Taiwan-dollar range, making them 60 cents to $US1 a ride. That’s significantly cheaper than the New York metro’s $US2.75-a-ride price.

The metro charges by distance, but even the farthest stop is only 50 new Taiwan dollars.


That’s about $US1.60.

The bathrooms are clean and useable.

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Someone was even cleaning the bathroom I was in when I used it, proving that it’s actually a priority for the metro system to keep its facilities in good condition. Who knew the Taipei metro could turn me into the kind of person who goes to the bathroom in a subway?

Overall, I cannot recommend it enough.


Living in New York, I never thought that taking public transportation like a subway could be so pain-free. Taipei’s transit system is in a class of its own, and it should serve as inspiration to other cities. We all deserve the metro experience of our dreams – not our nightmares.

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