Subway Stats and Strategy

Image Global Times

There is constant news and complaints about the traffic problems that plague Beijing’s streets daily, but often this focus on the cars leads people to forget about the traffic problems underground.

In a recent article the Global Times reminded everyone of just how busy the subway really is, and was in 2010. The past year saw 1.59 billion passengers with 5,710,000 in a single day (for perspective that’s the population of Rio de Janeiro or Denmark ).

Of course, “Line 1 was far and away the busiest line in Beijing, carrying 1,328,200 people around the city [in a day], and that makes for quite a crowded ride.”

The article also discusses the blogging of subway-rider Li Zhe who travels from Pingguoyuan to Sanyuanqiao, a ride that takes an hour and ten minutes and after two and a half years has traveled 36,000 kilometers (4,000 shy of the length of the equator).

He proceeds to offer suggestions for surviving the subway that illustrates the Chinese mentality that expats are often confounded by, including rushing for seats, standing in the middle of the doors (never mind the blocking of outgoing riders, this is the best spot for getting on fastest) and the obtaining of the choice middle seats because “you usually won't be called upon to offer up your seat … because the frail and elderly ‘don't have the power to crowd to that spot.’”


This moron is encouraging people to stand in the middle and block people coming out of the train? Single largest cause of "disharmony" in Beijing, I swear. I bet he climbs over the barriers at Sihui too.

hear hear jameserrington. i honestly would not be upset if i was delayed on my nightly commute on line 1 if that twat fell onto the tracks at Pingguoyuan.

But then, I would also be saddened by the fact that he wouldnt be able to experience being old and frail. Oh decisions, decisions, decisions.

What type of true shit would encourage standing in the middle?

Perhaps this man should travel to the other side of the equator and stay there. China, Beijing and I do not need him.

Wow, he's an idiot. There are some strategies worth having for the subway, but standing in the middle of the door is not one of them. Thankfully there are fewer and fewer who use that tactic. If people are standing in the middle when I'm trying to get off, I push them out of my way so I can get off. They can't get on until everyone gets off, anyway.
They need to add more trains, like one every minute, to ease the congestion. I'd still rather take the subway than bus, though, because you can stand without having to hold onto something, and because you don't get caught in traffic jams over fender benders.

I would like to see the entire blog post he wrote, I'm curious about his tactics for perverts and beggars. We've seen the one armed child beggar on line 10 several times now. Last week, in one ride from Suzhoujie to Huixinxijenankou, we had 3 beggars come by.

I ride Line 13 daily, and there is a huge problem with people who won't stand to the side and let passengers disembark when the doors open. I do have the advantage of being a little taller than most Chinese people (barely, I'm pretty short for a Westerner) and being inside the train. So, I grab my shoulders on the way out, turning my elbows around outside, and just go straight ahead when the doors open, exactly the way it's supposed to work. Funny how people get out of the way and stop trying to push their way on early when they're risking an elbow in their eye. Hope everyone tries this trick - you'll never bump into anyone if they're following the rules, and for those who aren't, they'll learn pretty quick.

I also absolutely refuse to let anyone dart around and try to cut in front of me (as laowai, I'm seen as an easy target). This is happening a lot more recently, since there are a lot more visitors to Beijing than normal, and seems to happen a lot around Chinese holidays. You have to get pretty aggressive to stop this, but daily Beijing commuters tend to have little patience for these kind of games and you'll be surprised how quickly they'll come to your defense.

There is absolutely no way the system can work if everyone turns into Li Zhe. I hope he is caught and fined for breaking the rules.

it's too bad that the subway system wasn't constructed the way it is on the T3 airport tram -- doors open on one side of the tracks to let people out, then open on the other to let new riders on.

Books by current and former Beijinger staffers

C'mon everyone, Li Zhe's just being "practical."

@TProphet I will try your elbow-technique next time.


i hope when i watch the victims dying nightly on 'traffic lights' Li Zhe is one of them

I first ask 你下车吗?(are you off?). You avoid a lot of problems by asking and that is also a kind of warning saying to the person who is in the front of me that if she/he does not get out of the way she/he will end up on the platform too.

If the people on the platform are stupidly grouped right outside the doors as such

I do not hesitate in playing the game.

A monkey with a suit and tie remains a MONKEY!