Tainan City Bus Service
Tainan City Bus Service
The streets of Tainan aren’t exactly stuffed with buses. This is excellent news if you’re traveling by your own mode of transportation, but not so great news if you’re dependent on buses to get around. Those who live in Tainan quickly learn that having your own mode of transport is quite necessary. Bus service is fairly limited and the routes just don’t seem very convenient unless both your home and destination are on the same route. The frequency of buses is also quite low, making it almost impossible to transfer buses conveniently. For those a bit squeamish about driving a scooter or buying a car, it is important that you settle your life near your work or on a bus route that will take you there directly.
The frequency of buses is the real problem with the system. The busiest routes run less than forty trips a day and many routes stop short of ten trips. This is a shame because there’s nothing wrong with the physical system. Tainan has some lovely bus stops with electronic time notifications and colorful route maps. The buses are in good condition and the routes cover most of greater Tainan City. The problem is a catch 22 when it comes to supply and demand. There’s not enough service because there’s not enough ridership, and there’s not enough ridership because there isn’t enough service. With most people sticking to the convenience of their scooters, there is little chance that the demand for buses will change. Most of the ridership are junior high and high school students who are too young to drive, and so most of the routes are prioritized towards schools.
Tainan Railway Station is the hub for many of the routes in Tainan. If a route doesn’t start and end here, it most likely passes through. Most normal buses have single or double digit numbers running from 1 to 18. There’s also a number zero bus that makes a circular loop around the core of the city. The number 88 and number 99 buses are designed for tourists and run extra buses on weekends and holidays. The number 88 hits almost ever major tourist spot in Old Tainan and Anping and would be the best pick for visitors wanting to do some sightseeing. Buses that start with four digits starting with 76 go out to Tainan County (i.e. the 7608 goes to Xinhua), but these have very limited service. The most frequent buses that by far offer the best service are the H-line buses that go to the High Speed Rail Station. These are free shuttles (at least for now) that need to be either embarked or disembarked at the HSR Station.
For more information on routes, check out the Tainan City Dynamic Bus Information System. This site has some bugs, but you can click on the “Service” tab for individual route information.
Standard fare for buses is Adult $NT18; Concession $NT9.
A good idea for tourists is to buy a daily pass at the information kiosk at the Tainan Railway Station. These run NT$80/NT$40 for unlimited service and can get you a 20% discount on all historic sites.