The Shanghai Metro grows each year. For the 2010 World Expo, the city gained four new subway lines, making the flow of traffic bearable. As the largest city in China, and home to the world’s most intricate and largest bus network, its no surprise that the metro is struggling to keep up, weaving a maze of tunnels below the city. The image (left) is the closest to what actually exists now. Nearly everything a tourist will want to see lies within the purple ring loop of line 4.
As a newcomer to Shanghai, it can be extremely difficult to find your way around town using the subway. Mostly, this is because the stops have street names but no information on the main maps about what is located near the stops. So, if you want to go to a bar in the French Concession, you have to already know how to walk from the closest subway to the bar. And that alone is tough since you don’t live in the city. Still, its worth learning.
The subway continues to expand. the image (right) is the intended subway map for 2020, making me wonder what will be under the city holding up the sky scrapers. You’ll notice how the lines continue to expand outward, making it clear that the city’s ‘suburbs’ will soon be swallowed by the city itself. What is the most surprising in this map is the lack of development in the metro network in Pudong. Disney will soon be opening a new Disney World in that area, and we expect Pudong real estate to continue to rise. Perhaps the lack of subways has more to do with the low water table than the lack of growth in the area.
Subway fare in the city is based on distance. The best thing to do is buy the all-inclusive transportation card similar to the Oyster card in London. The card costs 20 RMB ($4 USD) but it will safe you countless hours standing in line buying tickets for each ride. You can put money on the card and use it on the subway, buses, and taxis, among other things.
Before you swipe your ticket into the machine to enter the underground make sure you are swiping into the right line. Sometimes you’ll swipe in and realize you have entered the wrong area and you’ll have to pay another 3 or 4 RMB to get into the right area. If you are not sure where to go there are always guards who can help, although their English is minimal they seem happy to point and gesture after you have mimed out what you want.
Learn about the Beijing Metro Network as well!