What is public transportation like in Shanghai?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Sophie Friedman

Shanghai has an extremely comprehensive public transportation system, made up of buses and a subway.
The first subway line opened in 1995 and the system has been expanding ever since; there are now 13 lines and nearly 300 stations, making Shanghai’s metro system the third longest in the world, beat out only by Beijing and Seoul.
The subway is very easy to use, with color-coded, English-language maps and all stops called out in English. Most lines run from 6am to between 10pm and midnight. The metro gets extremely crowded during rush hour—picture sardines in a can—and should be avoided during then at all costs. During the day it’s not too bad, although lines 2 and 1 suffer serious congestion problems. The best part about Shanghai’s metro, though, is that it runs very far out into the suburbs, so you can use it, in conjunction with a cab, to visit nearby water towns.
The bus runs everywhere but is much harder for foreigners to use; route maps are only in Chinese, though stops are called out in English. You can safely assume that on major thoroughfares such as Huaihai Road and Nanjing Road, the bus runs simply runs straight to the end and then turns around. It also stops every two blocks, so you can always get off and walk back.
A bus ride costs 2RMB no matter how far you go; subway cards start from 3RMB and go up to 7RMB. Buses, the subway, and cabs all accept the same Shanghai Transport debit card. These are enormously useful and can be purchased at subway stations; they require a 20RMB deposit.

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