Actual Speed of Maglev is 64 km/h

Sitting in the Larkspur Landing hotel in San Jose, I missed Shanghai a little bit, just like I missed Maglev. I mean I actually missed it when I left my home and went to Pudong Airport in Shanghai. I found out that the speed of Maglev is actually 64 km/h, instead of the 430 km/h from a traveler’s perspective.

The calculation is easy. When I pull my luggage (a bag and a laptop) on to the taxi, the driver asked where I were going. I said “Maglev station”. The driver asked me: “Are you going to the Pudong Airport? How about I directly send you there?” I know the driver definitely want me to get to PVG. Well. It is a question without easy answer.

It was around 10:35. My home is about 4 km away from the Maglev and about 40 km away from the Pudong Airport. Well…

If I take the Maglev, when I arrive at the Maglev station, I should already miss the train on 10:40 AM. I need to wait on the platform until the next train arrives at 11:00 AM. Meanwhile, I have to bring all my luggage out, walk for a while (2 minutes?) from the taxi to the station, and get to the second floor of the station to wait in the line to buy the ticket, and then bring all my luggage with me and take the elevator to the third floor to wait for the train. The train is fast, really fast, I mean if it really get started. The top speed is 430 km/h, and it takes only 8 minutes to complete the 30 km journey. But after that, the nightmare repeats itself – get off board, bring the luggage with me and go along the long walk from the Maglev to the terminal. The bridge goes to the second floor of the terminal and I have to take the huge elevator to the third floor before I can find the United Airlines counter. Everything takes about half an hour. So, the speed for the 30 km is actually 60 – 64 km/h, depending on how fast I run, instead of how fast Maglev runs. :-)

If I take taxi, the same distance also needs 30 minutes. But what I need is to close my eyes and wait for the taxi driver to wake me up at the third floor of the Pudong Airport. This choice also creates a happy taxi driver, along with a happy Jian Shuo…

What about the fare? Maglev takes 40 RMB + 13 RMB taxi = 53 RMB. For taxi, it is 94 RMB. I am running out of time already. I finally took the taxi approach. The 30 minutes well compensated to my overnight work last night. When my taxi is heading to the viaduct to the terminal station, the Maglev flied away beside us. From the tourist’s perspective, Maglev is really cool. From a business traveler’s perspective, the speed of Maglev is not that good than a taxi.

First Impression of Silicon Valley

It is the first time I visit the Silicon Valley, the dream place for many people in IT industry. It is different from what I think though. This is what the Valley looks like in my imagination:

The entrance of the Sillicon Valley is Stanford University. At the back of the University campus, there is a small garage where HP started. Beside HP is a short street. Many two to three story buildings line up along road, with logos like HP, Apple, eBay, Yahoo!….

I don’t know how I formed this impression of Sillicon Valley. Maybe it is because of the legend that Sillicon Valley started from the garage of HP, or the joke that “when you goto the street of Sillcon Valley and say you have a project, a lot of VC will jump out to you”, or the fact that many people jump from one company to the other frequently… It turned out San Jose is not that near to Stanford (at least not within walking distance) and there is no all-star street there. It is a quiet place that is no difference from other small towns in U.S.

12 thoughts on “Actual Speed of Maglev is 64 km/h

  1. Jianshuo,i just wonder how much u will pay for an united airline ticket with business class from SH to SFO?

  2. Wow, sleeping in a shanghainese taxi, you are a brave guy, Jianshuo !

    Anyhow, it is actually possible to get from Dongchang Subway Station

    to the Maglev Station at Pudong Airport in 25 min’s. You can calculate the average speed.

    But NO taxi can ever do that !

    The walk from the train to the departure terminal is not that bad at all, many terminals around the world have a longer way to enter the departure terminal.

    At any time the Maglev is operating, I will perfer to ride the Maglev.

    It’s definitely cheaper and far more safe than a mad VW Santana-taxidriver

    (so far no official accidents running the Maglev).

    A safer alternative to the taxis are the many buses, cheap and airconditioned.

    See more on :

  3. Jianshuo,your home may be close to my home.

    actully, The Lianyuan Road is so crowded.

    Maybe it will take you a long time to the Meglev Station. :-)

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  5. Well, for you its a different story as you’re located closer to the maglev than most of us. Typically when I’m in Shanghai, I stay somewhere around Nanjing Rd, which means a taxi to the airport is going to cost around RMB 120 or so. It also means I will have to deal with a taxi driver who may try to rip me off and may be smoking or babbling into a cell phone the entire ride. Depending on the time of day or weather, I may even have to struggle for an extended period of time to catch a cab. In this case, the choice is easy, maglev is simple, cheap, and get’s me out of Shanghai FAST.

  6. Gee…Didn’t have time to check your blog the past few days and suddenly, you are here! Jiaoshuo, if you have time to meet up shoot me an email. Maybe I can see you at the SFO starbucks, as you said in your previous blog :)

  7. I used to work in San Jose. Now I moved to the DC area still working for the same big company headquartered in San Jose. Silicon Valley is now a very big town. It could even be bigger than Shanghai. You are right it looks very much like anywhere else in the US. If all of a sudden you are transported by Alien to Richardson Texas while you have a nap in your car, you may not notice the difference. How about DC suburban area like Fairfax country? The same except there are more trees. Big American suburbs are like models came out of a Hollywood movie studio, rows and rows of houses all look alike in planned communities with wide expressways designed only for cars. Life is quiet, air is fresh and the lawns are idylic. Life in suburb is now a main scene for the majority of Americans.

  8. Continued on South Bay. I was there when the tech bubble was at its most inflated point, that was late 90s. I enjoyed my highest income as a tech contractor and every bit of time living there. That was really an exciting time. I remember it’s so easy to get a job and every companies are hiring. Restuarants are always full of people and people, I mean real people with jobs are so well-to-do with their stock options ready to be cashed. No doubt about it South Bay was a boom town. I remember I was often grabbed by 2 companies competiting for my work because they have no qualified people working for them, many of their engineers had jumped ship to smaller companies lured by tens of thousands of stock options. When I accepted the project and started work for them, the manager who just hired me also jumpped ship, I was basically under no supervision for a while. That was a crazy time. Forks in Cisco Systems or Ebay were very lucky to have joined them early so they were able to cash out and afford that mountain top mansions.

    That time was gone. Silicon Valley is still here but the frenzy is gone. I am gone too to find a better place where I can afford a big house and raise my family. But life on the fast lane in San Jose is definitely a fond memory. One thing that is still booming in the Valley, that is the housing price. Most house owners are now millionaires.

  9. Enjoyed your blog. Your Maglev versus taxi senario will make a great math problem for the 4th graders!


  10. jgian: Silicon Valley bigger than Shanghai? Like most of your fellow compatriots, you’d do well to learn a bit more about the rest of the world, rather than babbling on about your little corner of it.

  11. The calculations of average speeds are not all that inaccurate but they are wrong. Running as many taxis for 30km as riders to the airport is an awfully inefficient use of resources. I admin that Maglev from Pudong City Limits to Pudong Airport is a little bit of a silly technology demonstrator rather than an efficient public transport infrastructure.

    A Maglev from Hongqiao to Pudong with one stop in Peoples Square and one in Langyang Road would be so much more useful, but a lot more challenging and a lot more expensive. Actually a normal train on a newly built track (going at 200km/hr just like the ones from Shanghai to Nanjing) would have been almost as useful for that service. At rush hour it is very difficult to get across the river fast and reliably by taxi – at least that was my experience a year ago and it will probably get worse as the economy grows further.

    As for San Francicso it is a total shame that there is no efficient train service (with electric locals and expresses) through silicon valley. Those old diesels are not going to cut it, bad accelleration, far too much noise. Think of a decent regional train with Capuccino and WLAN on board (the two essentials that keep the Valley humming) every 30min. There were plans to extend BART to San Jose but then some rich folks along the way voted it down because it would bring the some poorer troublemakers to their neighborhoods. That is the US – if its no longer the fear of the liberated slaves it is the fear of the working poor.

    Anyway BART would have been subway rattle trains that can’t compete in comfort with cars for longer distances. What is badly needed would be highly efficient express trains that do San Francisco Downtown (Embarcadero), One Suburban Stop (e.g. Bayshore), SFO Airport (Airtrain), Palo Alto, SJC Airport (with a People Mover to Terminal) and San Jose downtown.

    My gold standard is the airport in Zurich, regular speed intercity trains from the airport to the central station. Every 15-20min. Highly efficient airport too, from touch down on the runway to the warm shower at home downtown Zurich in less than an hour on average, for just $3.50 each way by train and streetcar.

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