Beneath the Skylight at the Changhua Bus Terminal

Changhua Bus Terminal 台汽客運彰化總站

Taiwan Motor Transport Company 台灣汽車客運公司 (or simply Táiqì 台汽) was a state-owned enterprise founded in 1980, partly to take advantage of the newly-completed National Freeway 1 國道一號 running along the western coast of Taiwan from Keelung to Kaohsiung. Considerable investments were made into an extensive fleet of vehicles, more than two dozen bus stations, and a massive maintenance depot (previously documented on this blog). Despite enjoying a monopoly on long distance, intercity coach travel, the company struggled to remain profitable in its first decade of operations—and when the market was deregulated and opened to competition in the early 1990s, its fate was sealed. After incurring another decade of losses Taiqi was privatized in 2001 under the name Kuo-Kuang Motor Transport Company 國光汽車客運股份有限公司, which continues to operate today, albeit on a much smaller scale. One consequence of the downsizing that preceded privatization was the closure of the Changhua Bus Terminal in Changhua City, the administrative capital of Changhua. Today it remains derelict, a crumbling relic of the optimistic 1980s hidden in the laneways north of the central railway station.

Changhua Bus Terminal
A former bus terminal in Changhua City. The orange-brown structure in the background is attached to the rotunda. It once housed offices and staff quarters.
Changhua Bus Terminal Bays
Approaching the loading bays. Nearby residents haven’t done very much to reuse the space apart from park a few cars and store some old junk near the open doorways.
Inside the Former Changhua Bus Terminal
Inside the former bus terminal in Changhua City. Note the curved stairway leading to a flooded basement.
Changhua City Tile Mural
A distinctive tile mural decorates the wall at the heart of the Changhua Bus Terminal.

The tile mural at the heart of the bus terminal deserves some additional explication. From left to right it appears to depict three landmarks in Taipei: Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall 國立中正紀念堂, the Presidential Office Building 總統府, and what might be Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall 國立國父紀念館. This is followed by an unambiguous representation of the Great Buddha of Bāguàshān 八卦山大佛, the most famous landmark in Changhua City. Finally, is that the fortified Éluánbí Lighthouse 鵝鑾鼻燈塔 on the far right? That would make sense—it is located at the southernmost point of the island, an allusion to the bus company’s expansive network.

Beneath the Skylight at the Changhua Bus Terminal
The Great Buddha of Baguashan, one of Changhua’s most famous landmarks, is plainly visible on the tile mural.
Radial Rooftop at the Changhua Bus Terminal
Gazing up at the radial rooftop inside the main station hall.

It seems likely this station was abandoned in the late 1990s, not long before Taiqi was effectively dissolved. The lack of Kuo-Kuang insignia suggests that this station was already closed by the time daily operations were transferred in 2001. Sometimes a closure like this can be explained by local population dynamics—but contrary to expectations Changhua City was undergoing a growth spurt throughout the 1990s. Perhaps the station was never operating at capacity? This would not be surprising, particularly since Changhua exists in the shadow of neighbouring Taichung, with its vastly superior transportation options. At any rate, long distance buses bound for Taipei now depart from a modest building1 at the Hépíng 和平 and Zhōngzhèng 中正 intersection, not far from the front of the railway station.

Ticket Windows at the Changhua Bus Terminal
Ticket windows with a fare table and schedule overhead.
Behind the Counter at the Changhua Bus Terminal
Behind the counter at the Changhua Bus Terminal.

Heading upstairs reveals another side of the bus terminal: a hostel for employees, a useful feature for drivers plying the late night routes far from home. Something like a dozen dorm rooms and a set of communal washrooms can be found on the top two levels of the building, but none of these are particularly interesting, nor are there many intriguing artifacts left behind. The only outlier is a headless doll on a chair in the corridor, obviously a prop from a photoshoot, and no cause for concern.

Headless Doll in the Changhua Bus Terminal
A headless doll propped up on a chair in the upper levels of the station, which doubles as a hostel for drivers and station personnel.
Driver Dorms at the Changhua Bus Terminal
A glimpse inside one of around a dozen dorm rooms set aside for drivers to rest.
Changhua Bus Terminal Stamps
Stamps and other necessities in a back room.
A Newspaper From 1998
A newspaper from 1998. The station probably closed around this time.
Changhua Bus Terminal Schematic
Station plan and city map over a shuttered entrance in the main hall.
The Distinctive Changhua Bus Terminal Skylight From Above
Peering down at the distinctive skylight piercing the rotunda.
Playing With Shadows at the Changhua Bus Terminal
One last look at the abandoned bus terminal in Changhua City.

Although this bus terminal is popular with urban explorers in Taiwan, both for its accessibility and the impressive size of the main hall, not much is written about it online. For more information and photos you can try blog postings here and here. If you’re interested in visiting I suggest doing so soon—this sort of derelict building is almost certainly destined for demolition at some point in the future (though it presently serves as a paid parking lot). It is also worth noting that this is one of the last remaining relics of the original Taiqi transportation network that hasn’t been renovated or destroyed. For more about the Taiwan Motor Transport Company check out my post about their former maintenance depot, now vanished.

  1. I was informed on Facebook that this is the original intercity bus station for Changhua City, predating the construction of the terminal documented in this post. 

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the detailed information! I have been there too but didn’t know the story behind this place…

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