Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Public Transportation - Shanghai Style

Ah, transportation in Shanghai. There is many a blog posting about traveling by bus and train in this great city. It is wonderful, and wonderfully frustrating at the same time. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so this posting is picture heavy.

Bus Stop Sign
The bus number is a the top. The names of the stops and a red arrow that shows direction are underneath. If you can't read Chinese, you just look for the number and hope for the best.

Shanghai Public Transportation Card

This is the magnetic card that you can use for the bus, train and taxi. Similar to a metrocard in NYC, but no swiping. Most people don't take them out of their wallet, and some women just hold up their bag to the card reader. There is a 30块 deposit for the card, but you get a 10% discount if you spend more than a certain amount (70块, I think) in a month, so it is worth the deposit if you use public transportation on a regular basis. Plus, it is the only way to avoid having to buy a ticket every time to take the train, so it is also convenient.

Typical 2 块 Shanghai Bus

The bus is either 1 or 2 块. The new buses, with the Metro/ Transportation TV and air conditioning are 2 块. The older buses are 1 块. The older buses are definitely considerably older, most of them look like they've been around since before the 1950's. Some of the buses have a conductor that collects the fare, gives change, and holds a flag out the window when the bus is about to stop, so that the bikes know to get out of the way. All of the buses have a magnetic card reader, so you can pay with your Shanghai Public Transportation Card. A bus ride is not complete unless you are shoved out the way by someone getting off or trying to give the conductor (who sits behind the back door) their fare. It was on the bus that I learned that 98% of Chinese people do not say excuse me, or sorry, they just push, elbow and shove - and now so do I.

Subway Station in Shanghai

Looks like a nicer NYC subway to me. Cleaner and more technologically advanced, but the same basic setup as the subway in NYC.

Digital Media

The subway in Shanghai is new, and like most new systems it is efficient and technologically advanced. Each of the lines is a little different, some are above ground, some are underground, and you can tell which lines and stations are newer. All of the below ground lines have these ads, which are on the wall behind the tracks.

Next train?

The best thing about the train in Shanghai, for me, is this screen. It tells you what time the next two trains will arrive, as well as the current time. Actually the countdown ends when the train doors open, so at one minute the train is pulling into the station. The TV is Metro TV, a mix of news (entertainment news mostly) and commercials. Entertaining, although it is on a cycle that repeats approximately every 10 minutes, so it gets redundant if you are on the bus or train for more than 20 minutes. The next train here is just under 3 minutes away, the one after that 8 minutes, and the current time is about 3:30 (15:30).

In case you get lost

This is the station stop at Jing'An Temple. Like many of the worlds systems, Shanghai's signs and maps are bilingual. All of the important information is also in English, so it is very tourist friendly (provided the tourist can read English). It is also clean and well-maintained. There is a person with a whistle on the platform (one for each side), that blows it when the train is coming and departing the station - he (rarely a she) has a fun job during rush hour trying to get people to get on the train so it can stay on schedule. Delays cause fights and riots. Seriously.

Pulling Out of the Station

The sign at the top tells you the direction of the train, where you are, the previous stop, and the next stop. This is the #2 line. Each of the lines (5 so far) has a different color. And the station and train designs are also different for each line.

The Station

This is not during rush hour. You wouldn't be able to see the station during rush hour.

This is rush hour.
Rush Hour in Shanghai is not for the faint of heart. Trust me, I've ridden the train in NYC for most of my life. The Chinese push and shove during off-peak times, and so during rush hour you need your shoving arm. People will literally push you out of the way in order to get on first. And there is no waiting for the next train if this one is full, EVERYONE fits. In order to get on the seriously overcrowded train, I've had to throw a few elbows myself.

Above Ground Train

This is the train I take to work. Nothing like standing in the cold at 7:00 at night waiting for the train in a city know for its winds. Nothing like it. Anyone taking the train in Chicago, I have a new appreciation for what you go through, as Chicago is even colder than Shanghai. Oh, the feeling of sharp wind against your face...

The Signs

These three signs are EVERYWHERE in the train stations, above and below ground. My favorite is the last one, "No spitting". That's right, folks, the train is one of the only places (maybe the only place) in China where spitting is NOT allowed. And it seems that people generally obey the rule...the hefty fine imposed if you are caught probably helps a lot.

Pictures courtesy of:,!1psdFdW3uWZp-A3c-JeidiRg!1344.entry, and,,


Memeeflye said...

that's why we call the wind- the hawk in Chicago. You most def. feel preyed upon after the hawk hits you

TaKeesha said...

I am feeling all the screens. That looks so cool. But for real the rush hor is daunting. There seemed to be a sea of people down there. That is crazy.

Max said...

Those train stations and the buses put NYC (and most American transportation systems) to shame!!! Love the vibrant colors and the cleanliness. The screens are hot! They would not last long in NYC. Someone might have them in their living room with the quickness. or at least get arrested trying.

Sacred Stitch said...

Rush hour is serious business in the biggest city in the most populous country in the world (is India in the lead yet?).
As for people stealing the screens... I'd love to see someone try. Not really, it'd be scary. In China, prisoners have no rights, and it is guilty until the government says otherwise. Getting arrested is not something folks play with.
The system here is young, NYC's is not (the oldest lines are over 100 years old). The test will be how it holds up over time. They're still building and expanding the metro system here. If NYC was building a system now it'd be totally different from what we know.
The metro is the cleanest place I've been in Shanghai so far. Hands down.
The Hawk. Word.