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Shanghai’s Construction of a “National Public Transport City”

Oct 31, 2017

The Shanghai Municipal Government’s Information Office held a press conference on October 10 on Shanghai’s construction of a “national public transport city”. Following are the highlights:

 

Xie Feng, director, Shanghai Urban and Rural Construction and Transportation Commission

Yang Xiaoxi, deputy director, Shanghai Urban and Rural Construction and Transportation Commission

Shao Weizhong, vice president, Shanghai Shentong Metro Group Co Ltd

 

ICS: Director Xie, you said that rail transit stations should have a public transport site or bus station within 50-100 meters. Can you be more specific about the arrangement for the subway schedule to connect with the first and last bus? For example, which subway stations do you plan to use when the new system is adapted, especially the last bus for the day. Thank you!

 

Xie Feng: This is a good question you have raised. It has always been our goal to connect the rail and bus systems. We have reached a certain level of bus coverage around subway stations, but we still need to strive for a seamless full coverage. When the overall subway system closes for the day, there must be buses running above ground to provide residents 24-hour transportation. Mr. Shao has more to say about this.

 

Shao Weizhong: We have extended the operating hours of six subway lines since April 28 this year. We had a pack of schemes when we extended the hours. At night buses are available within 15 minutes’ walk after the last train. As the subway network further develops, the connections will be improved. We will ensure full coverage of the subway-bus system integration, especially in the evening.

 

Yang Xiaoxi: By June this year, 75 percent of Shanghai’s subway stations had bus stops within 50 meters and 89 percent had them within 100 meters. There have been obvious improvements. Line 17, to be put into use soon, will set a good example. The surrounding facilities, including buses, have been taken into consideration in the construction process.

 

Xie Feng: The key is to provide more convenient transportation and transfer for residents. The new lines that will be completed later will all be equipped with the facilities. There will be bus stops within 50 meters of every subway station. We are now trying to expand the coverage based on existing hubs and earlier stations.

 

Jiefang Daily (Shanghai Observer): I have two questions. The subway now has a larger flow as the network expands; what are the risk control measures to guarantee safe transportation? The second question is: Do you have any further plans for the extended running hours?

 

Shao Weizhong: The Shanghai subway network has grown in scale with a large amount of daily flow. This year, the average flow on weekdays hit 10 million and it is a regular thing. The highest number we got was 11.86 million people a day. With such pressure, we have placed risk control high on the agenda. To begin with, we seek to solve the issue by increasing the operational capacity of the subway and adapting facilities on existing lines. For example, the transformation of the signal devices on Line 1 is basically completed and we are pushing forward work on Line 2. We have also purchased more trains for Lines 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. The evacuation ability for the stations is being improved. Each Spring Festival we make some improvements at stations that usually have a large flow and along with it bigger risks. With these measures we will have better ability to evacuate and lower the risk when there are too many people.

 

We have done plenty for daily maintenance, too. First to secure the equipment, we have taken effective control over the breakdowns that carry major risks. We conducted a security check recently and brought the major risk points under control. Last year, the trains were running late once in every 2.34 million vehicle kilometers, but now it is over 3 million vehicle kilometers. The control over the breakdown rate as well as the operation quality has improved. Technologies have been adopted, too. For example, online detection technology has been used to make pre-judgment for breakdowns so that we can prevent it before it actually happens. At important hub stations like People’s Square, Xujiahui and Century Avenue, we keep a constant watch on places which are most crowded, including elevators and platforms. Meanwhile, we have established safety mechanisms with police to the point that each station has its own plan. An effective coordinative system has been set up. This year the work for all stations will be finished and the final mechanism will be put in place. As such we should now be in control of the overall situation, a major breakdown or safety risk arise.

 

We have just discussed extending the running time. We have done an appraisal for the effectiveness of the extended schedule, though the ratio for the transport amount and the daily flow is rather small. We have received positive comments in terms of social response and our all-day coverage of service. We will further look into the nighttime flow; adjust certain lines at night. For example, since September 25, Line 10 has had a higher operational capacity and an extended running time from the original 10pm to half an hour later. The extended time is only applied on a small scale, but we are sticking by the scheme to see what can be optimized.

 

STV: Bus-only lanes have been one of people’s concerns. Now there are more of such lanes in Shanghai. Though they do make buses run faster, is there such a problem that some of them have not been used enough, causing jams in other lanes? How will you assess the situation and make subsequent running schemes?

 

Xie Feng: This is a good question that many residents would like to learn about. First I would like to raise our goal here, which is to build 500 kilometers of bus-only lanes by 2020. So far the lanes have reached 345 kilometers. We said earlier that the priority for buses should be guaranteed on these lanes. With priority on signals, too, the buses should be highly efficient. Many residents complain buses are less reliable than the subway when it comes to punctuality, but if the signal system is able to give them more right on the road, the quality for bus running can be secured.

 

Our conclusion from the general assessment is that there is a difference with or without the bus-only lanes. The lanes have made the buses run 15 percent faster. In urban areas, the buses can run at an average speed of 12.9 km/h during peak times, while the speed on the bus-only lanes can reach 16.3 km/h. It can be said that the bus-only lanes do play a role in securing public transportation and it still has a bigger role to play in the future.

 

The new road and transportation rules released on March 25 also specify that in a certain period of time, the lanes are available for school buses and other vehicles with 20 seats and above, in the hope that the user efficiency on these lanes can be improved. On weekends and holidays, they would be completely open to all vehicles. So we can say that while the priority for buses has been guaranteed, the efficiency for the lanes has improved, too.

 

What caused the question is possibly the sight of bus-only lanes running fluently while the other lanes had far more vehicles that were plodding along. I think there is a misunderstanding about these buses. We have been emphasizing that for a megacity like Shanghai to solve the transit problems, public transportation is the only way out. For one thing, the clear bus-only lanes guarantee the speed for buses and attract more residents to take buses. This has been our intention all along. On the other hand, the number of cars on the road is not the only measure to see whether the road is effective. The bus-only lanes are clear, but buses have a load several dozen times more than sedans, especially during rush hour. So the lanes actually improve the efficiency for passengers on the bus. With such intense road resources in Shanghai, the only solution is to develop an intensive and efficient system. So it is necessary to let residents recognize the bus-only lanes in this way and support the development of bus-only lanes to make transit more efficient.

 

Xinmin Evening News: Director Xie mentioned that in recent years, subway has taken up about 50 percent of public transportation; meanwhile, bike sharing is a shock to buses, too. Under these circumstances, will you change the positioning for buses? Bike sharing is another of my concerns. Beijing and other cities released a set of directives on bike sharing last month and Shanghai is still preparing in this aspect, so I’m wondering how the work is going now.

 

Yang Xiaoxi: It is just like how you see it. As the subway extends and improves its quality, more passengers take it. And people use different vehicles when they go out, including sharing bikes and sharing cars, which indeed cause fewer people to take buses. But our survey shows that the bus lines affected most are those where passengers ride to the final destinations when they get out of the subway. These lines, altogether 199 of them in the city, have dropped 3.5 percent in flow, which means they are not affected much. Most residents still take buses when they go out. Our technician department is conducting a design for buses based on the flow data, including our bus data and surveys for the past six years, to reinvent the bus network so that it is supported by a core system and also make the routes more reasonable. Locals’ need is one of our considerations and the buses are still irreplaceable in the public transportation network along with the subway.

 

Xie Feng: I will answer the second question for you. Bike sharing makes it more convenient for residents to transfer, which has a great value. But we are also surprised that bike sharing has developed so rapidly. The Ministry of Transport has defined it as “Internet rental bikes”, which is closer to what they actually are. We encourage the development of bike sharing as well as enhanced regulation on bikes. From the second half of last year, we have been working on guidance for developing and regulating the Internet rental bikes. As the department responsible for transport in the city, we have been paying attention to the industry and have been sharing information with other departments. We will refer to the regulation experience in other parts of the country to come up with our own regulations.

 

We have done some work, including summoning relevant governmental departments for surveys and discussions. Besides, we have been collecting opinions from representatives of the two sessions. A third party was introduced to send out questionnaires to see what people think of bike sharing. The four leading cities in China ‑- Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen -- face many similar problems and we held seminars to discuss them. After that we have issued an exposure draft and published it on the Shanghai’s portal website and Weibo to gather public opinions between April 28 and May 7, during which we received more than 300 pieces of advice through email or correspondence.

 

On August 3, the Ministry of Transport and other relevant sectors jointly issued the Opinions on Encouraging and Regulating the Development of Internet Rental Bikes and we have made some improvements accordingly. The regulation on bike sharing will be guided when the official paper comes out.

 

We continue to encourage the development of Internet rental bikes while working to strengthen regulation on such bikes. So far the work has been effective. The number of bikes used totaled 1.78 million at most, but with the joint work of the police, city management and district sectors and the requirement on the companies to manage better, the number is down to 1.15 million. The situation concerning bike jams in downtown has improved. Quite a few of them have been reallocated to suburban areas where they appear to be in better order.

 

Shanghai Radio: Director Xie mentioned Bus Route 71. I wonder if the route has turned out to be what was expected of it when it started. Also, people would like to know if the speed for the route can be faster. Can other areas have a bus route like 71 to have a medium passenger load?

 

Xie Feng: Route 71 has been attracting attention since it started to run. It is an important route in the city running from the west to the east. Besides, it is totally different from the traditional transport above ground as its stops are set in the middle of the road. It has its own special lane, too. The length of the bus is as long as 18 meters. It is our first route with the medium passenger load, so we have been preparing for the subsequent survey and appraisal in the beginning to see what we should stick with and what we can abandon. We will also make improvements on the problems in the operation. Director Yang will give you more details.

 

Yang Xiaoxi: We set up an appraisal team right after Route 71 started running to assess its reliability and efficiency in the long run, concerning planning, construction and operation. The replicable experience will be the basis for our decision in the future. Judging from the data of the third party assessment, the medium load bus has realized the goals for which it was designed, with some aspects better than we expected.

 

Director Xie has talked about the running speed.

 

On weekdays the daily average flow is around 45,000 and the highest would be 55,000 passengers. In the morning rush hour, the speed is 17.5km/h and in the afternoon 17.1km/h, which is well above the average (13km/h) for general buses. The effect is obvious to see. Also we need to strike a balance between speed and safety. We prefer the speed to remain at 17-18km/h.

 

We are planning further for the future. Fengxian BRT is under construction and might be put into use early next year. Songjiang T1 and T2 will be available next year, too. Besides, we are doing the overall design for express buses or medium load transport in downtown. The complements will be made based on the connection of the bus network and the subway network. In the end the two networks will be integrated to support urban public transit.

 

Generally speaking, the public transport above ground needs to be improved by extending more lines in the first step and then improving on the service level, especially in terms of punctuality, comfort and safety.