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Mantovani 2009 China Tour – Shanghai Subway
Jan 11th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

Shanghai Skyline

Shanghai is an amazing city full of examples of the vitality of the 21st Century China. The sky is pierced for miles on end by skyscrapers tall as any in the world. Having grown up outside New York City just across that fragrant patch which we locals called “The Meadows” with a view of the Empire State Building (I grew up before the World Trade Center was erected), I felt quite at home.

I’m also a connoisseur of subways and trolleys living in the greater Washington, DC area with our “Metro”, and living through my undergraduate years in Boston with its hodge-podge of trolleys, trackless trolleys and heavy rail subway cars, but I digress.


The Shanghai subway system is a marvel. The trains are clean and fast; the fare collection system a technological marvel with electronics aiding the traveler in multiple languages. One simply, and I do mean simply, selects a destination on an interactive map, and the system then calculates the fare and asks for the money. Simple.

And in the cars there are electronic maps as well.

One thing this traveler had never seen was an “open car” design in which a tall Westerner such as this writer could see over the heads of most of the Chinese passengers clear to the front and back of the 8 car (?) train. No doors separate the cars.

But then, in my experience, there’s always something interesting, and I mean this with affection and respect, about how a technology which starts in one part of the world, in this case, the West, is adapted for use in another.

This subway sign says it all: practical, down to earth, simple – and something I never saw anywhere else. Kind ‘a goes without saying, but in China, traffic, whether pedestrian or vehicular, or the usual combination thereof, is not the orderly flow it is in Germany, or even, in Italy!

Next post: Logistics – travel with musicians, instruments, and a live goat. (just kidding about the goat…).

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