Lining Up for Metro?

Yesterday, at rush hours (6:30 PM), I waited at the Shanghai Metro #1 People’s Square Station. On the rear doors of the Metro, I noticed that people started to line up – there are two lines of people for the gate, and each line has more than 15 people, that makes the lines cross the platform and even near the other side of the platform.

No one was there to help maintain the order. The lines just formed by themselves. When the metro train came, people get off board from the middle – also formed a line, and the two lines of people entered one by one.

I was amazed by what I saw, because:

First, people started to respect orders,

Second, I didn’t see it in the last few years in Shanghai Metro. At least not to this extend that 15+ people forming a straight line.

I even wondered whether I am in Shanghai Metro. Lining up for Metro is the basic practices in many cities but not in Shanghai yet.

I am happy to see that started to happen. Although it is the only time, and they are just at several doors (other doors in the middle part were still at a mess), but it is progress.

Transition in China

When I was asked about the keyword for current China, I choose the word Transition.

Current China is about the old and the new co-exist. When the old system collapse, and the new system is not well established, it is the period of transition. People say bad things about China (poor, no rules, low moral), and people say good things about China also (prosperity, development, huge market), they are all partly true, but not complete. China is just in the transition period. The old and the new conflict with each other, compromise with each other, and finally mixed with each other, until a new order is established.

That is what I felt from small things like lining up. It takes time for this “rare” occasion to appear, but based on my experience, if the first “rare” occasion appears, after 5 to 7 years, it will be the standard.

I am looking forward to a better Shanghai Metro in 2011 or later.

18 thoughts on “Lining Up for Metro?

  1. I was in Shanghai few weeks ago and I have the same experience, Metro line 1, 6:30 pm, Friday night going towards Circus World direction from People’s square. There are some trying people but is hard to keep in line when it is so crowed, have to give people credit when they are trying .

    JS, you as a Shanghai residence, you should be very proud to hear what I saw, a young mother teaching a 3 years old while waiting for the metro to follow the maker on the platform where to form a line while, stay clear of the doorway and let people off the train first before she should enter. Education works.

    I live in Vancouver most of of my life, for a Vancouverlte is very hard to understand the meaning of being in a jam pack ride, I experience and realized the ture meaning of the pharse – jam pack after that friday night.

  2. I know that China is in transition, but currently the bad things (poor, no rules, low moral) are true, as well as the good one.

    But transition to what ? Even more selfish and money oriented ? Or better?

    My personal experience of last week in the metro.

    At 6:30pm (so people are not late to go to work).

    The signal ring to alert that the doors where closing, a stupid woman try to enter and get her bag blocked, a person working for the metro run to help her open the door and unblock her, and as soon as the door was open, 4-5 people run, push hardly with their shoulders the guy working for the metro, make him fall (nearly on the ground, but thanks to the crowd he did not touch the ground) because of the shock he loses his flag, and had to find it back in the middle of the crowd inside the car. Then he get out, and the metro left.

    Nobody complain about these 4-5 peoples, everybody accept their fates, and these 4-5 peoples totally do not care to make someone fall of the ground if it enable them to save 2-3 min waiting.

    This kind of behaviors is CURRENTLY more common in China than your story.

    I believe that the problem is that most of Chinese people do not see the people they do not know as people, but just as things that can block you, or that you can use.

    It is not really efficient to ask Chinese to respect rules (like queuing, etc..) if they do not understand that they own respect not only to their family and friends but also to strangers, including people with low rank job (waitresses, etc…)

    Personally the things that drive me crazy sometime is this fucking klaxon, so many people just press by reflex every 5-10 sec…

    Ha yes, I also dislike the people owning car who see themselves has emperor because they have money. They have an accident with a bike and he is injured, they will scream on him because he may have make a scratch on my car.

    PS: Let all do like me, every time I am going out of the metro, and I see the people ready to push, I say loudly “Xian Xia Hou Shang” (先下后上) (first get out, then get in) it is written everywhere in the metro. And when people still push me I say: “Bu Wenming” (不文明) (not civilized).

  3. As a Chinese person, I feel very ashamed when I travel abroad and see our Chinese brothers and sisters act inappropriately. It is unfortunate that it has come down to this: the government issuing a notice stating we are rude and obnoxious. I highly doubt this notice will even be noticed by the general tourist population as most people here find it quite normal to do these things.

    Tourists told to polish up act, not their shoes

    Ji Mi


    CHINA yesterday published guidelines on how tourists should conduct themselves when abroad.

    The rules are part of efforts to improve the nation’s image tarnished by some Chinese travelers who, among other infractions, have jumped queues, ignored warning signs and even polished their shoes with bed linen.

    In a list of tourists’ bad habits published by China’s tourism authorities last month, spitting and littering came first. The list was based on an online survey that got more than 30,000 responses from all over the world.

    Chinese tourists’ reputation abroad has gotten so bad that in the United States and some European countries, authorities have put up signs, in Chinese, that say “No spitting,” “No littering,” “Please line up,” and “Flush after using the toilet.”

    In the guidelines published yesterday, Chinese people are urged not to spit or litter public places.

    Tourists should not talk in loud voices or jump queues at public venues.

    According to the online survey, line jumping and chatting noisily have become synonymous with Chinese tourists abroad.

    Smoking in non-smoking areas is also discouraged in the guidelines.

    People are also urged not to walk side by side on sidewalks and block other pedestrians.

    Chinese tourists are advised against making bed sheets, towels and other property dirty when staying in hotel rooms. Media reports have said that some Chinese tourists polish their shoes with bed sheets or towels.

    Proper dress is also promoted by the guidelines.

    Some Chinese men have reportedly stripped to the waist in inappropriate places during hot summer days and women have been said to wear pajamas in supermarkets or on the street.

    Chinese tourists are also reported to have a cavalier attitude to removing shoes and socks in airport terminals when they feel tired.

    The guidelines advise tourists to follow rules when taking pictures at museums and art galleries. In the survey, foreigners complained that Chinese tourists tended to secretly click away at exhibits despite warnings.

    Chinese men are also asked to observe the “ladies first” rule.

    Domestic tourists are asked to respect the rights of others and not force foreigners to pose for pictures.

  4. when talking about all this in a negative mode, think about the population in those metro cities in China. people are smart animal, they adjust to environment.

  5. Jiangshuo,

    I’ve just been reading your blog. You’re a very insightful person.

    I spent a year in Shanghai a couple of years ago, and like you, worked at one of the largest computer company. Incidentally, I also owe some of my best and fondest memories there.

    Being a foreigner, and having lived in Guangzhou before coming to Shanghai – I’d have to say Shanghai is a very livable place. I’d even go as far to say that it’s the most livable place in China in terms of entertainment, living conditions and general foreign-friendliness. One thing I didn’t expect to see in Shanghai (or China for that matter) is the ‘civilisation’ of the city in the span of 2 or 3 years.

    Human mentality and attitude is a very hard thing to change, but it’s good to see that the transition wheels are in motion.

  6. How many JS that we can have in Shanghai? HEHE… If the majority has 75% of his civilization and sensitivity, the city will be definately different :)

    We will wait and see.

  7. In all societies, it takes time to be more caring for each three cheers for your nation…

  8. yangtang:

    How much time does China need? Isn’t China one of the oldest living civilizations in this world?

  9. It takes time, that is funny. I guess everything goes in cycles. There was a time in the distant past China was the world superpower. Europeans were considered “barbarians”. China thought they were the most sophisticated people in the world so they decided to isolate themselves. I guess now the roles are reversed.

    Unfortunately, in my opinion as a Chinese-American, I think there is too much traditions and culture in China for people to really evolve into a free-thinking society.

  10. Don’t make your comment in such a easy way!!!!!!!!!!!

    I have been in singpaore for more than 3 months. I never see people lining up when they are waiting for metro. On the contrary, people here are trying to get his own seat. And the guys on the train can’t get off at all.

    People are selfish, all over the world. Some perform good, just because the different economy situation.

  11. Dear Jian Shuo Wang, this makes me believe that you are beeing paid to tell unreal things about Shanghai. Who live there know its not the reality!

    Your blog is realy good man, dont shame it.

    At my point of view, only adopting hard penalties (money), they could control the animality. Money moves the new china, people have fear to lost it.

  12. But how do you enforce penalties (fines) when most people are poor or don’t even have IDs? I have to say Shanghai’s “messiness” (can’t think of another word at the moment) surprized me when I visited for the first time, but I guess it’s understandable when you see how many people there are. Sort of. Well it definitely felt like a city in transition.

    And I thought those rules for Chinese tourists are hilarious. First time I saw a “No spitting” sign was inside a train in Beijing (a year before I visited Shanghai). I can’t read Chinese so I had to guess from the picture, but my friend told me that it in fact was a “No spitting” sign. I’d have never thought anyone would spit inside a train but I guess anything’s possible in China. :)

  13. If the police go to the metro station, the people will have some fear and will not push other people like animals.

    Dont have IDs cannot be an excuse, they should have it or make it. The animality problem is not only the poor people, like someone wrote above, new rich chinese with they big cars are even worse. Penalty all of them and the transition time will be shorter. Why HongKong, Macau and Singapore are different? They are also chinese, but they are controled with high fines.

    I dont think the “No spitting” signs are for tourists, they just like to translate them to us. Than we (tourists and xpats) think they are trying to change.

  14. It’s very interesting to me the different approaches some of you have to fixing this problem. On the one hand, some suggest forcing compliance by having heavy fines or police involved. On the other hand, some suggest setting a good example and others will follow. This is like confuciansim versus legalism. I think it is interesting that propriety is still such a big issue in China. I am impressed that there are some thoughtful people in Shanghai who worry about this problem. I think if Chinese people want to fix a problem they will be able to if they work together.

  15. Hi Jason, I agree with you in part.

    But look, China has so huge population, every year more people get themselves informed, but the rest(non informed) is still very big.. China is growing economically faster than sociality. If just let them to solve this problem “working together” without some pressure, china will take so many years in this transition time. My ex. wife is shanghainese, and I know they care a lot because this.

  16. things have improved a lot i guess, though i got scratched on my arm while trying to squeeze out of the train just a week ago.

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