Some 500 Capital Bus drivers are dressing up as Santa Claus this month in what has become a holiday tradition for the company in Taipei.
Capital Bus operates 45 bus routes in the greater Taipei area. Its Santa-clad drivers hand out candies and cookies to passengers during the Christmas season.
Christmas is not a public holiday in Taiwan.
More drivers are volunteering to wear the costumes, which have proven popular with riders.
"We had only a few Santa drivers at first, but many passengers would wait at the bus stops for Santa drivers and buses with Christmas decorations," said a station master at Er-chong, Taipei County, surnamed Yang (
The company then asked all its drivers to dress up as Santa Claus on a voluntary basis and most have cooperated, he said. Many other company workers are also donning Santa costumes, which are provided by the management.
Many drivers take pride in being able to extend Christmas greetings to their passengers, but some admit their initial foray into the realm of jolly old St. Nicholas was not easy at first.
"My 10-year-old son was really shocked to see me in a Santa costume. He asked me what I was doing dressed like a clown," a driver surnamed Wu (
After some explanations, his children are now proud to have a dad who is a Santa driver.
"It's going to be December again. Don't forget to become a Santa driver," Wu said his children tell him
"I was a bit shy at first but now I'm used to it," said another driver, surnamed Chao (趙). "I'm very happy to dress up like a Santa Claus to serve my passengers."
Besides adding color to an often drab journey, Santa drivers make sure passengers do not miss their stops.
"I was too shy to address the passengers at first," Wu said. "But now, even if there is only one person left on the bus, I still make the announcements."
Reactions to the Santa service have been "mostly positive," Yang said.
One rider, who preferred to remain anonymous, praised the idea: "I really like the service that they provide."