Here’s one thing I’ve been meaning to write about for a while and finally have the time. The EasyCard is something that was designed many years back. Almost everyone here in Taipei has one, since transportation is so important in big, crowded cities. Many other other large cities around the world have some variation of this card as well, such as LA, Hong Kong and London.
The EasyCard is a way to easily store and withdraw money for use with the city’s subway system.
Money can be added onto the card through machines usually located at the entrance of Metro stations. Whenever you need to take the subway, you can just swipe your card at the turnstile. When you’ve reached your destination, swipe your card on the way out and the card will calculate how much you owe, based on the distance you’ve traveled, and automatically deduct money from you’re card.
The alternative to this would be having to buy one-way tickets to you’re destination every time you ride the subway. While this should only take a minute or so, having an EasyCard will save you a lot of time in the long run, especially if you have to ride the subway every day.
The popularity of the EasyCard caused it to be incorporated into other common means of transportation as well. Now, public buses all have EasyCard readers in them. I thought this was a brilliant move, since having to find the correct amount of change to pay for your ride while like 20 people are behind you trying to get on is pretty strenuous (the buses didn’t have EasyCard readers when I was in Taiwan 2 years back, so I would know).
I got my own EasyCard when I first arrived in Taiwan; all you have to do is ask for one at the help desk of any metro station. They take 500NT as a deposit (you get 100NT back when you return the card), and the card comes with 400NT in it already.
Another thing that accepts EasyCards is a bicycle rental company called YouBike. There are several stations set up around Taipei (most of them aren’t buildings, they’re just rows of bikes attached to machines), and to rent a bike all you do is swipe your EasyCard. You can return the bike to any station in the city. I personally haven’t tested this yet, as my biking skills are a little rusty and I’m not confident that I can swerve around pedestrians and benches and traffic cones like the locals do.