Wheelchair Travel in Taiwan – Public Transportation

In the last few years, Topology Travel had provided tour service to more families who traveled to Taiwan with elders or some wheelchair users. We got more experienced and learned from our customers by understanding their needs and finding out what we can do better when arranging a tour for wheelchair users, and how to make an accessible travel become possible.

Perhaps you just thought of a friend in a wheelchair, and he/she might want to travel abroad but might be still hesitating where to go considering the accessibility. Why not encourage him/her to visit Taiwan as the first try? Follow the instructions below, and with Topology’s supports, we believe he/she will be more confident for the Taiwan trip.

In the following paragraphs, we will point out the pros and cons of taking flight, MRT (subway/metro in Taipei City), HSR (High Speed Rail on west coast of Taiwan), and TRA train (railway system all around Taiwan) in Taiwan with wheelchair. Indeed, there are still some space for improvement regarding to wheelchair accessible environment in Taiwan, but we do our best to provide you enough information or alternative solutions to make your trip smoother.

[Flight and Airport]—-from your home country to Taiwan

1. Take full-service airlines.

When traveling abroad with your wheelchair, it’s better to take full-service airlines rather than budget airlines, based on the following two reasons:

i) Normally you would need to check-in your wheelchair, but this might trigger extra charge if you are taking the budget airline.

You might need to use a lift when getting on the flight with the wheelchair.

ii) Sometime there is no jet bridge for boarding if you are taking a budget airline, then you might need to take stairs or ask for a lift service (and this service itself might be more expensive than your flight ticket :P).

2. Request the airline company or flight attendant for wheelchair service. If you are using a motorized wheelchair, contact with the airline company in advance to make sure your battery fits their standard for carry-on into the flight.

When your flight lands at Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) in Taiwan, let the flight attendant know your need, they will prepare a thinner wheelchair which can pass through the airplane cabin’s aisle for you, and the staff will take you pass through the immigration (usually with the VIP channel), until reaching the baggage claim belt for collecting your luggage so that you may change to your own wheelchair afterward.

* You may take a look of this blog (Chinese) with pictures demonstrating how’s the whole process of the wheelchair service at Taoyuan airport.

* For more information about taking the flight with a wheelchair, you may also refer to this website (English) with a very clear video instruction.

3. Don’t take bus, please take TAXI or MRT from airport to the down town (such as Taipei City). Currently, there are no low-floor buses from airport to the down town, so it could be a nightmare for wheelchair users when taking the bus.

For calling wheelchair accessible TAXI, you may make a phone call to +886 3 3982832 for reservation, or find the TAXI service desk at the airport for help. The fare for TAXI from airport to Taipei City is around 1,200-1,500 TWD per ride.

Taoyuan airport TPE providing wheelchair accessible TAXI service

[MRT]—-the most convenient way to travel around in Taipei City

Taking the MRT (metro in Taipei City) to transfer around Taipei with a wheelchair is “almost” barrier-free accessible.

ramp to MRT station (metro/subway in Taipei)

1. All the MRT stations have the lifts and gentle-sloped ramps for wheelchair users get into / out of the station.

it is barrier-free to get on/off the MRT (metro/subway in Taipei))

2. The level difference / gap between the platform and MRT carriage is well designed for wheelchair users easily getting on/off the train.

3. Inside all the MRT stations, there are ticket gates for the disabled, and also toilet facilities for disabled and elderly passengers. You may refer to the MRT official webpage of Facilities for the Disabled (English) for more information with pictures.

[MRT]—-some unsolved problems for wheelchair passengers

The only unsolved problem is that, before you entering a MRT station from the ground floor, you would need to know which exit has the elevator.

For instance, at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall station, there are 7 exits in total, but only Exit 1 & 5 have the elevators for disabled access.

CKS MRT station has 7 exits but only 2 of them are wheelchair friendly.

To get this information in advance, visitMRT official website for the MRT route map, and you may click the certain station for checking its exit information.

Or try to use this app: Friendly Metro Taipei. When GPS is turned on, this app will show you the nearest exits of a metro station with accessibility information and pictures that help you quickly reach an accessible exit.

* If you still have difficulties of taking the MRT with your wheelchair, contact with Topology and we can help to design the travel itinerary and arrange a tour guide accompanying with you to solve the problem.

[HSR]—-the fastest transportation on the west coast of Taiwan

Although the level difference / gap between the platform and HSR (High Speed Rail) carriage is well designed for wheelchair users easily getting on/off the train, there are still some tips we would like to share with you, to make your HSR journey and experience smoother.

it's barrier-free to get on/off the HSR (High Speed Rail in Taiwan)

1. You may call HSR’s customer service line: 4066-3000, for reserving the guiding services. You may reach the passenger service counter 20 minutes before your HSR train departure time, to meet with the staff and he/she will lead you to the platform on the wheelchair accessible route (with the elevator). It will save your time from getting lost in the big station for finding the correct route with elevators.

The same service applies on the case when you arrive your destination HSR station for getting off the train. If you had reserved a guiding service, there will be a staff waiting for you on the platform, leading you to the nearest elevator and help to “unlock” the elevator so that you may use it and get out of the station. (At some stations, the elevators were locked to avoid being abused by general passengers.)

2. For each HSR train, on car number 7, there are 4 conveniently accessible seats for passengers in wheelchairs. Two seats are available for parking electric wheelchairs, and two seats are available for parking folding ones. There is also one accessible restroom on the train. Take a look of this HSR official webpage of Accessibility Services (English) or this blog (Chinese), as well as the below pictures then you will have a clearer idea.

You may choose to stay on your motorized wheelchair or shift to the seat next to you on HSR.

2 seats for motorized wheelchairs and 2 seats for folding wheelchairs on HSR

[HSR]—-some unsolved problems for wheelchair passengers

There is one very big unsolved problem that it’s not able to book the accessible seats online currently. You can only purchase the accessible seat ticket at HSR station or reserve it by making a phone call in advance.

* If you prefer to book the accessible seats and confirm your travel time schedule in advance, contact with Topology and we can help to pre-book the accessible seats and also reserve the guiding service for you.

[TRA train]—-all around Taiwan including Pingxi and Yilan

The TRA train system is older than the HSR train system, and it makes taking TRA train more challenging for wheelchair users. Anyway, here are some tips for you, and if you can speak some Mandarin Chinese and have the courage to talk to TRA staffs at spot, that will be very helpful.

TRA train staffs help to arrange the ramp for wheelchair users getting on/off the train.

1. There are some steps at the doorway of the TRA carriage. When getting on/off the train, call the station staff for providing a ramp for you.

Reach TRA duty office at the station for wheelchair service.

2. Unlike HSR, you are not able to reserve the guiding service for the TRA train by a phone call. If you need help, you have to reach staffs at spot. Find the Duty Office at the station before you taking the train.

[TRA train]—-some unsolved problems for wheelchair passengers

Same as HSR, it’s not able to book the accessible seats of TRA train online. You can only purchase accessible seat ticket at TRA station or reserve it by making a phone call in advance.

* If you prefer to book the accessible seats and confirm your travel time schedule in advance, contact with Topology and we can help to pre-book the accessible seats and also reserve the guiding service for you.

The above are the tips for taking public transportation in Taiwan for wheelchair users. You are more than welcome to forward these valuable information to whom that you think they would need.

If you’d already been to Taiwan before, how do you think about the above information based on your experience or observation when you were in Taiwan?

Or if you self is a wheelchair user, after having a brief idea about the accessible environment in Taiwan, what do you think we can do better or provide further assistance to make your trip in Taiwan smoother?

Please feel free to send email to topology.travel@gmail.com to share with us your thoughts. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

Warm regards,

Topology wheelchair travel team

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