I’ve done the entire London Tube system before I tackled those in Beijing and Shanghai, and I’ve been in both cities in China longer than what some might call “healthy”. (For Beijing, that’s 14 years in one go; for Shanghai, these included two visits in just one month in July 2009.)
So when my wife thought it was high time to “guide Brits coming into China for the trains”, I thought that it was also high time to introduce Britons to the way the rails work in China. Apart from a full-fledged post on Tracking China, I also took the time to compare the Beijing and Shanghai equivalents of London’s Central, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly, and Victoria lines — or what could be the closest equivalents.
And this is when I ask all Londoners, Beijingers, and Shanghai folks to chime in. Is what I am posting below absolute rubbish — or can you somehow relate to these?… ▶
I used to be a subway person in Beijing (in all three senses of the word: the US subway as in a train system; the UK subway as in underground passageways; and Subway as in the sandwich joint). Beijing’s main reason for getting me this addicted to its underground city metro system was that it was expanding all the time — and to ride one you did not need to break the bank.
At CNY 2.— for unlimited mileage (as long as you stayed inside the city), it was one of the cheapest systems in the world. No longer, though: a majority approved changes that would see starting fares a la Shanghai (CNY 3.— instead of CNY 2.—). The rates being proposed are not cheap!
- Starting fare: CNY 3.—, good for 6 km
- Mileage between 6 km and 12 km: CNY 4.—
- Extra CNY 1.— per 10 km for distances from 12 km to 32 km
- Extra CNY 1.— per 20 km for distances from 32 km onwards
This is all way too complex, and no rider will have an idea how much money he or she will have at the end of the trip.
What Beijing needs is a carbon copy of London’s fare zones.
London’s fare zones are complex, and in at least two of these zones, “special fares apply” (especially if you head up to Watford on the Overground or National Rail trains). But Beijing’s can be much easier to ascertain: just use the rings! ▶
It seems like the city is serious getting its traffic bugs ironed out as quickly as the jams are coming on. We’ve heard reports that the Western Suburban Line (to the Fragrant Hills) will come in the form of a tram, and that monorails are planned over Yuquan Road and the Eastern 4th Ring.
Yet again, the city’s planning authorities have shown its plain ignorance and blindness to the way things actually are when it comes to the Eastern 4th Ring’s new monorail. ▶
TV has been a little too real as of late.
I was taking a short ride today on Beijing’s Subway Line 2. Whilst waiting for the train, I had a look at the replay of last night’s semifinal between Germany and Italy, where the latter, quite unexpectedly (in our part of the world as we see it), prevailed. They had some pretty cool moves and I mentally and nearly physically tried to mimic these moves.
Unfortunately, I was about a dozen centimetres from the boundary of the platform. Right underneath these is that high tension third rail. If I made a kick the wrong time, or with the wrong “swing” — bzzt! — I’d end up electrocuted.
Something in me says that either they need to stop showing soccer at Subway stations or — better yet — install platform screen doors. ▶
It’s a good thing that Beijing’s Subway Line 4 is coming all that bit closer to reality — the new line’s ready for a late September 2009 opening. Hopefully by then, they’ll also have fixed this insane font mix…
OK — here’s what I think is wrong with the signpost, font-wise: ▶