Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Ways in Which the Taiwan Railway is better than Delta Airlines

I went to Green Island for the 3-day weekend, which was delightful except for getting there and back- I rode an overnight bus to Taitung then took the ferry, and rode a train back that wasn't supposed to be overnight but almost was. :)
I left Taitung a little after 5 and was supposed to get to Fong Yuan around midnight- it was a slower train but there aren't too many choices for that journey and the faster train was sold out of seats when I bought my ticket about 10 days ago. I figured a seat on a slow train was better then standing on a fast train. Which is usually true, but not last night!
After a couple of hours the train stopped and they started making announcements. I wasn't too concerned although I couldn't understand the announcements, but then a man from further up the car came back and translated for me. So nice! We kept in communication throughout the night. It turned out the engine/ locomotive was broke down and we had to wait for another one. We did, then stopped for a while at a small station waiting for a fast train to pass us. We'd only been going for a few minutes when we stopped again- I guess a train derailed further up. After a long wait, we wound up getting on city busses to ride up to the next big station, PingDong- about a 30 minute bus ride- to get on another train. By then it was almost midnight and I was thinking about trying to get a hotel room in Pingdong or up in Kaohsiung, but the wait was almost non-existant for the train and there were no more problems. I slept most of the way home and we got to Fong Yuan around 3:30- my biggest worry was getting my scooter out of the alley where it was parked, but I was perfectly safe.
Although it was tiring, of course, I was really impressed with the way the train people handled everything. They were constantly making announcements, and even a few times they announced what they thought would happen, then came back and said they had to do something differently. They also explained what was going wrong and ended each announcement with "Sorry to waste your precious time" (the only part I could understand!). They refunded our tickets and when we got on the new train, they gave out bottles of water and let us choose a baked good from 7-11 (they had big boxes and you just grabbed one).
I kept thinking about the difference between this and the many problems I've had with Delta airlines, where the employees have proved to be rude, ignoring your questions or snarling at you, unconcerned about the hunger and exhaustion of its passengers in the case of long delays, and unwilling to accept blame or to offer sincere apology or to offer even token financial compensation for delays which are often caused by their equipment or employees.
It was just so refreshing to see what could have been a very frustrating situation handled with professionalism and care.
Pics from Green Island soon!

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