Are city buses simply an affordable and environmentally friendly means for commuters to get where they are going? Not necessarily. In order to offer passengers more than just a ride on a bus, the executives of a Taipei city bus operator keep exercising their ingenuity to come up with new helpful services. The latest innovation is the establishment of their unique “music bus” service. Besides basic safety and comfort, the company goes a step further to create a calm and relaxing atmosphere by providing their stressed-out metropolitan passengers and bus drivers with some light music while traveling on the bus.
Shin-Shin Bus Company Equipment and Supplies Section Director Chang Chao-te talked about the new music bus service in an interview with the Taipei Times on Jan. 29. The company first embarked on a trial operation of the service on 11 low-bed buses in early September last year, playing FM99.7 Philharmonic Radio Taipei, a radio station that plays primarily classical music, said Chang. The service was well-received, so later that month the company held talks with Jingo International Records to obtain authorization to publicly broadcast music licensed by Jingo. It also installed a new sound system with USB ports to play USB music files provided by Jingo on a bus to test the waters, continued Chang, adding that the sound quality was good and the service was generally praised by passengers.
Starting in October last year, the bus company begun implementing the service on all of its 365 buses, excluding 37 old buses which were to be replaced with new ones this year. The music bus service was fully launched on Jan. 15, said Chang.
When asked about the selection of music, Chang replied that Jingo has licensed a total of more than 4,000 pieces of music, ranging from classical music, the sounds of nature, classics from around the world, instrumental jazz to Latin music among others. After a period of trial listening and receiving recommendations from Pan Tung-chu, assistant vice president of Jingo Records, the company has selected 524 pieces — 278 classical pieces, 106 new age piano music pieces, and 140 miscellaneous jazz pieces — and plans to modify its catalogue each season.
While the music bus service is generally well-received, some people still complain about volume levels. The company has therefore decided that the volume during daytime should be 12 decibels (dB) and between 8dB to 10dB at night, said Chang.
Implementing the music bus service has cost the company several million New Taiwan (NT) dollars. Despite the extra cost, Chang said the company continues to plan new and thoughtful services, such as the installation of a system of “sexual harassment and pick-pocketing alarms, including whistles,” which will be completed before the end of March, to help prevent incidences of sexual harassment and pick-pocketing as well as to deter potential criminals from getting on the bus.
If you see a pink Taipei city bus, you will notice that each bus is equipped with reflective stickers on its front and rear bumpers. Chang said this is a sign of the company’s concern for road safety. Furthermore, maps will be printed for each bus line to help passengers conveniently locate facilities near each bus stop, such as restrooms and police stations, Shin-Shin Bus spokesperson Wang Chiang-wei added. Next time when you happen to take one of the pink buses in Taipei, why not calm yourself by listening to the elegant music being broadcast on the bus and experience the considerate services tailored by this bus operator for its passengers?