Public Transportation in China

Well, as China-crazy as I am I do realize that many people think very badly – especially in environmental terms – of China. Which is partly true (remember, I‘m in the 3rd to 5th most polluted city of China) but as so often there‘s more to it than just meets the eye.

So let me tell you a bit about an aspect of China where Germany isn‘t nearly as good: bike sharing. I know Germany has it as well but only in very few places while it represents here a larger trend. Admittedly it‘s also way more dangerous (should do a post about Chinese driving in the future) but I think a really nice way of getting people to not use cars. The way it works here is that you can purchase an IC card (with which you can also ride the bus) where you put money on and it automatically charges the money from there. The stations are quite frequent and you get around pretty easily. Only reason I‘m not using it is that I have a problem with riding bikes on icy surfaces in combination with crazy drivers but maybe I‘ll get around;) But in general genius idea.

Bike Sharing

The bus service here is….well, different. Generally it‘s way cheaper than in Germany (figures), you pay 1 kuai (like 0,10€) normally or 5 mao (0,5€) for one ride, no matter the amount of stations. Depending on the line the busses are quite old and the bus drivers are crazy (well, TiC, never met a normal driver in China in the first place). It‘s rather unfortunate that the stations are only displayed in Chinese without a map which makes it harder to figure out where you‘re going. But with a little bit of help from Chinese friends it‘s fine and for 1 kuai the risk of taking the wrong bus is a worthy one^^

Cabs are also really cheap. You pay for the first 10 minutes in Taiyuan 8 kuai (0,97€) and then for every minute or so. I pay for example for a 15 min ride to the train station 14 kuai (1,70€) which is nearly ridiculously cheap. Actually cab riding is one of the most common forms of transportation, even more in Beijing. Seriously lowers the attractiveness of getting your own car cause you don‘t even have to be sober OR deal with the traffic anymore^^

Trains are also genius. It costs me from Taiyuan to Beijing about 150 kuai (18,25€) but since it‘s a 4,5h ride this is pretty reasonable. Especially if you choose the night train option – then it takes you 10-12 hours but with a nice bed. Love them and always sleep really well in them. Can only recommend it.

Even though it‘s still under development the train network is really good in China. A new line was opened from Beijing to Guangzhou (far south) and is supposed to be incredibly fast. I was also happy to hear that from Taiyuan there‘s even a direct line to Shanghai since I‘m gonna be using that.

So you see at least in public transportation there‘s a lot we can learn from China. Just because we‘re fewer people doesn‘t mean we should have more cars because they still all fit the streets. Especially the price policy needs to be reconsidered. If it‘s more expensive to go by train somewhere than going by car something is not right.

But we‘ll hopefully get there;)

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