Can Shanghai’s Metro Handle EXPO?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 22:05
Posted in category Uncategorized

Among all the chants of “being ready” (or was that Beijing Games?) and the billboards counting down the seconds between now and what is sure to be an event to remember, I have one fear…. that Shanghai’s metro is just not going to be able to cope with all the traffic.

It is a concern that is fueled by a simple calculation that there are an expected 70 million people who attended the EXPO, and while there is no breakdown of where those people are coming from, there would be at a minimum 55-60 million people coming to Shanghai.  or between 305,555 and 333,333 people PER DAY moving around the city between their hotels and the EXPO pavilions.

Visitors who are far more likely to take the metro than bus, and as you can see from the picture I took at 9:30 this morning… there is not a whole lot of room left inside the trains on line 2

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12 Responses to “Can Shanghai’s Metro Handle EXPO?”

  1. @Mark_E_Evans says:

    March 9th, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    are there enough incoming buses, trains and planes to supply and remove 300,000 new people a day?

  2. Rich says:

    March 10th, 2010 at 8:33 am


    I am not sure how the system is being set up to handle all this. Hongqiao has opened their new terminal, and Pudong has some room for capacity as well (not much), but one of my employees said a military base was going to be used as backup just in case (they heard on news).

    buses.. trains… sure, I bet that is on the plan as well, but honestly, traffic for both is going to be a nightmare anyway. My train at 9:30 this morning was backed up from Jiangsu Rd to Lujiazui…. how they plan to shorten time between trains or increase capacity on the line is beyond me…

  3. Etienne says:

    March 10th, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Some of the older lines are indeed full like on the photo. But Shanghai opened several lines that are far from full at peak time. Line 9, Line 6, Line 4 are all busy but not packed at peak time. For example, Line 9 was soft opened a few months ago and only put in full operations a couple of weeks ago. Many people do not know yet that it exist. But a new comer or visitor looking at the map will see that it makes sense to move from Puxi to Pudong with line 9 instead of Line 2 !

    I am sure that the Expo 2010 will create some stress. But I there is some slack out there, I think.


  4. Rich says:

    March 10th, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Hi Etienne.

    how are you these days? been a while….

    I would agree with oyu that the new lines have spare capactiy.. but that only scares me more. Look at line 2, and all the new transfer point, and a lot of those lines are ones that are only fueling the fire. Taking my station at Jiangus as an example, it brings people from Jiading to Jiangsu and ends there.. so now my station looks like People’s square circa 5 years ago every morning… and you can see this at other stations.

    It is progress, and I would say entirely manageable, but I am not looking forward to the first few days.


  5. Etienne says:

    March 10th, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Been a while indeed . . . but I did read your blog all that time, I promise 🙂

    Good point. All lines have multiple crossings downtown. It starts to look a little like Paris or London where you can pick at least two or three paths from one station to another. And that can contribute to both unloading or overloading stations. Since Expo is between Nanpu and Lupu bridges, and these two new lines are going in that area, I thought it actually could relieve a little the traffic on line 2. But it will depend on how travellers will read the metro maps.

    Our different experience must come from the stations we use. I used to have to go through People Square on my way from Pudong to Xujiahui. Now I can happily bypass this and rush on Line 9 or 4/7. You seem to unfortunately be the victim of additional traffic that cannot use such bypass.

    Maybe I should not tell all this on a blog as visited as yours: I might regret it soon when these lines are packed like on your photo !


  6. Rich says:

    March 11th, 2010 at 4:04 am


    you must be one of the luckiest benefactors of the recent upgrades.. being able to bypass People’s Park… you must gain 10 minutes of your life for everyday you bypass!


  7. Nick says:

    March 11th, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    This issue goes beyond the expo. As of now, there’s an estimated 4.3 million people riding Shanghai’s Metro everyday, and that number is set to surge to 9 million by 2013. Can the Shanghai Metro’s expansion and planning keep up? Note last month’s ChinaDaily article titled Shanghai metro hires people to shove commuters into trains

    We’re focusing on transportation all this week at enoVate. We’ll have a couple articles to supplement this. Yesterday we put out a piece regarding advertising in Shanghai’s subway.

    Great job as always Richard.


  8. Rich says:

    March 11th, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Hey Nick.

    I totally agree on getting beyond the EXPO.. but 9 million people!!! HOLY CRAP.

    When I met urban planners a year or so ago, there was supposed to be 750km of track by EXPO (est was increased from 500KM).. with 1500KM by 2015.

    The “plan” was to have the 500-750km of ring road coverage complete on ALL of the planned lines, so if you say there is going to be 9m on the tube by 2013.. what we are really looking at is the impact of the additional 750km that will be online by around that time.

    One side note.. one of my staff was in Kunshan and said that they already have their stations built, and the line is basically built as well. They are just waiting for Shanghai track to make it.

    So. the question becomes where are they going to fit everyone, and what will the impact be on Hongqiao, Pudong, Xinzhuang, Hongkou, etc as people look to avoid city center…. those areas have a lot of empty buildings.. so sounds like a real estate play to me.


  9. Jay Boyle says:

    March 16th, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    I happen to ride a D train to Beijing last week with a gentleman who said he was one of the architects of the Shanghai Metro system. I could not help but ask him why he did not include express trains the way NYC does it. Although by far the best way of getting around town it is maddening to stop every 2 and a half minutes.

    Never did get a straight answer.


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    March 29th, 2010 at 11:53 pm

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  12. 8888 says:

    April 10th, 2010 at 12:39 am

    compare this with the delhi metro in india. you’ve never seen more of a calamity on rails. makes the trains and metros in china look like solitary confinement!