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March 25, 2017

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All aboard! Taipei's new sightseeing buses offer double the fun

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A fleet of double-decker buses hit the roads of Taipei Wednesday, offering visitors to city a chance to take in open-topped guided tours in four different languages.

The hop-on, hop-off bus service was officially launched at a ceremony at Taipei Main Station, attended by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

The fleet of 57-seat double-decker buses will take passengers to popular tourist hotspots around the city.

The buses exceed regular city buses in height by around 1 meter.

During the launch ceremony, Ko applauded the service, calling it the "first step" in the city's tourism plan.

He said that as an international city, Taipei had always lacked the double-decker tourist bus service common in most other developed capital cities.

The buses currently run two routes around Taipei.

The red line is a 20-kilometer route from Taipei Main Station to Taipei 101, while the 23.5-kilometer blue line goes from Taipei Main Station to the National Palace Museum.

Passengers can also enjoy more than just the sights: an accompanying app offers guided tours in English, Mandarin, Japanese and Korean. A bus attendant is also present at all times to provide additional support.

Ko encouraged locals to try out the service themselves, saying it presented "a different view of the city from above."

Depending on the popularity of the two lines, the city government will likely alter the routes in the future, Ko said.

Asked whether the low ticket prices would put a dent in Taipei's finances, Ko said the city needed only to break even, suggesting that some gains couldn't be easily calculated based solely on numbers.

Outdoor Seating Spotlighted

Perhaps one the most attractive aspects of the new buses is the seats on the partially covered second deck.

Each bus's upper deck contains 47 seats, 37 of which are uncovered. There are also 10 seats on the buses' bottom decks, one of which is reserved for individuals with disabilities.

In celebration of the launch, the city government has also initiated a promotional event that lasts until Jan. 26.

During the promotional period, the city will issue 666 sets of "buy-one-get-one-free" tickets daily, with ticket holders able to ride the buses as much as they want for four hours for just NT$300.

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