Chinese public transport

Types, convenience, prices

Fast and effective transportation systems are quickly emerging in China’s big cities.

Urban Buses in Chinese cities

Buses are the most common form of urban public transportation. They are clean and rather cheap, especially compared to transportation in many European countries.

There are two types of buses - the cheaper (普通 = - poo-tohng) buses, and the more expensive express (快= - kwye) buses, which make fewer stops.

The common running time of Chinese buses is between 06:30 and 19:30. Most buses run only during the daytime between 06:30 and 19:30. It is possible that some lines run until later or, in some cities, throughout the night.

Chinese urban buses today have a self-service ticketing system. There is a coin-box at the front door where passengers get on. In buses that still don’t have this system, there are conductors who sell tickets after you get on. Tickets start at CNY1.00 and may reach CNY2.00 in buses with air-conditioning. On some buses the ticket price may depend on the distance.

Not all road and street signs in China have English translations. It may be very difficult to find the bus stop you need since they are all written in Chinese. You can buy a map that at least has the route of bus numbers, consult a local, or look for a map in English in English bookstores or tourist shops.

Chinese subways

Currently, 11 cities have metro lines. In the near future 20 more cities plan to develop a subway system.

The prices of subway tickets vary in the different cities. Depending on the distance, ticket prices can be between CNY2 and CNY12.

Here is a list of some of the metro systems’ websites:

http://www.ebeijing.gov.cn/feature_2/Subway_Tour/  - Beijing subway tour
http://www.shmetro.com/EnglishPage/EnglishPage.jsp  - Shanghai metro
http://www.cdmetro.cn/  - Chengdu metro (only in Chinese)
http://www.cqmetro.cn/crtweb/ - Chongqing metro (only in Chinese)
http://www.hzmetro.com/  - Hangzhou metro (only in Chinese)

Getting a taxi in China

The use of taxis and personal vehicles is growing even though owning a car is still considered a luxury. In bigger cities bicycle use is giving way to cars, but in smaller urban centres and small towns cycling is still the most preferred means of personal transportation.

Taxis are quite comfortable, relatively cheap and easy to find. You might find the driver does not immediately turn the meter on. If that is the case, you should either ask them to do so, or go for a different taxi.

Usually, cab drivers don’t speak English. Though in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics taxi drivers in the capital were given 100 useful phrases in English to learn. However, it is a good idea to have the addresses of your desired destinations written down in Chinese to show to the driver.


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