Lining up for Metro – Part II

This is the second post about lining up in Shanghai metro after I posted the first entry about it (Lining up for Metro?) three and half years ago.

These days, when I started to take metro again, I found out in more and more stations, people started to line up.

The Change Over Time

8 years ago when I started my blog, people never line up.

3.5 years ago, people started to line up in busy stations like People’s Square, and that was the only case I saw it.

Now, in many small stations, people started to line up – 5 persons a line. Look at the photos I took randomly at Jinxiu Road station of Metro Line #7.

The lines are not exactly that type of lines in armies, but people do start to honor orders. People will automatically make up two lines along the door, leaving the space for people to get out first. For efficiency, people won’t wait for everyone to get out to get in, but the door is wide enough for three lines of people, the order were kept and it is much more efficient.


I guess there are two reasons for it. First is the abundance of resources. When more and more metro is built, there are enough room in most metro lines for everybody, and people don’t worry about missing the metro in most of the cases. Please note: it is not ALWAYS, but in most cases. Even if there are times there are more people that you need to way for two or three turns, as long as it is occasional, people still respect orders that they formed in normal days.

A half empty train cart in none-peak hours

The second is the ramp up of the city life style. Metro and the city life style itself are new things to the Chinese people. It takes some time for people to get used to it, to start to understand it, and form a set of rules. The interesting thing is, time will just help people to shape their behavior without too much external forces.

For the elevators, the same thing happens. People started to naturally stand on the right, and leaving the left side for people to pass. This is more and more trendy in Shanghai. When the trend is formed, it is hard to change, since everyone will be happy to do it to demonstrate their “fit” with this city.

P.S. I chatted about it with my friend RC who introduced the phrase “T.I.C moment” to me. He joked: “No! There will be one TIC moment missing in Shanghai!” I am happy that the TIC moments fade out while this city advances in civilization.

9 thoughts on “Lining up for Metro – Part II

  1. That’s awesome. One of the nicer things about the Olympics up here in Beijing was the (relative) improvement in public manners on the subway. It’s still a crush of people and the whole “wait till others have exited the car before rushing in to grab a precious seat” thing remains a work in progress, but things are definitely getting better.

  2. not all stations. i’m still experience bad pushing around. Lately I just witnessed 2 passengers quarrel for a seat. And also it doesn’t apply to weekends. maybe a big number of them are tourist. they still push around.

  3. The trains can actually leave the station sooner if people line up orderly and let passengers get off first instead of everybody trying to push, people seems to appreciate this finally, this is good.

    Glad to see Shanghai metro is so clean and tidy. In London there isn’t any litter bin installed in the metro (underground) system so litter is everywhere; there are also free newspapers distributed near the station during peak hours every weekday so it’s extra messy. I wonder what happened when they first got rid of the litter bins many years ago due to terrorist bombing threats. I’d imagine people did not just drop their litter everywhere at the beginning, but somehow some people started this trend at some point, then everyone just developed this terrible habit. Now it’s become semi-acceptable to drop litter in the station and on the trains, I don’t know since when this had become ‘acceptable’.

    And I don’t think this will get turned around even if they reintroduce the litter bins in stations since people have sort of got used to their terrible habits. Shame.

  4. I heard that you have to have bags scanned when you go to the metro now, at least at some times. Is that right?

  5. Hmm… Interesting that you say this new line-up habit starts, but not my experience. Yesterday I am in center of door trying to get off some old man pushes right in to me and knocks me over!… I kid you not. Also, I had been out of China for two weeks so was more observant and noticed the line-up repeatedly ACROSS the subway door, completely blocking the exit for those on the trains…. seems like there are two parts of Shanghai… I haven’t seen yours yet.

    You sure you’re not just PRing for Shanghai Expo?

  6. This discussion started to be interesting. That is a typical demonstration of the story “The Blind Men and the Elephant”. I am just one blind man touching part of this super big elephant – Shanghai (It is 1 million elephants!) and every reader is other blind man. Different people see different things are completely possible, and reasonable.

    The only hope I have it, when seeing others saying different things, don’t over act as the blind man in the story, and start our conversation like this:

    “Why you still waste time there. Tis clear enough that ….”

    “Even the blindest man can see that….”

    “God bless me! It is nothing else but a ….”

  7. I think I am the blind man only seeing the people blocking the doors as they scramble to get on. Lots of the persons in the stations are eyeing the one or two empty seats and will literally rush like a football player to try to get the prized empty seats. But even if the metro is already full and there are clearly no empty seats, in general, people still refuse to stand back on each side of the doors to let the passengers get off first. Usually, they will start swarming on from both sides when the doors open and leave a narrow passage for persons to get off single file. Women, men, young, old, urban, rural; seems most everyone does it….

  8. Hoffman, you see it right. I also see it in Shanghai. To push, and rush is not news. Lining up is rare in Shanghai many years ago, and now it is getting popular – based on my personal experience between 8:30 – 9:00 AM daily on Metro Line #7 (I am not commenting on other lines, or other time). Hopefully, one day I can start to report on this blog about the “pushing and rushing” on Shanghai Metro one day, as breaking news.

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