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December 1, 2021

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Iconic local public transport bus No. 49 celebrates 75th birthday

Although the Metro has taken over as the major public transportation means in Shanghai, the heroic history of local public transport buses has not been forgotten.

The route No. 49 bus, which runs from near the Bund to Shanghai Stadium through some of the most iconic quarters of the city, celebrated its 75th anniversary yesterday. The occasion brought together many of its current and former workers who fondly recollected their stories of the bus line.

The first No. 49 bus set out from the Bund at Nanjing Road on November 30, 1946. Over the years, the bus line has been extended several times. Today, it passes three downtown districts of Huangpu, Jing’an and Xuhui, with stops at People’s Square and three major hospitals — Zhongshan Hospital, Huashan Hospital and Shanghai Cancer Center.

As one of the earliest bus lines in downtown Shanghai, the No. 49 buses have always been among the first to use new vehicles, and its team has a long-standing tradition of hard and excellent work by which the award-studded bus line is known to local residents.

In recent years, the drivers on its team have been mobilized to make sure to wait for passengers who are running to catch the bus, to assist physically challenged people to get on the bus and to always remind passengers to give seats to those in need.

From March this year, passengers taking the bus from its terminal at Shanghai Stadium but have no change or transportation card can sponsor themselves from a machine which allows people to donate their change for others who can’t pay the 2-yuan (31 US cents) fare. Those who take the bus from other stops and are not able to pay the fare can get a sponsor coupon from the driver and are encouraged to pay the fare later through a machine at the terminal.

The bus has had no conductor since August 2019. From 2017, all buses running on the line have been powered by electricity. The line, operating under the No. 2 Bus Company of Jiushi Bus Group, has a fleet of 21 buses and 65 workers.

For Xu Jun, a local who was born in the 1980s, becoming a driver of the No. 49 bus in 2015 was a dream come true.

Xu, who grew up in an old neighborhood on Fuzhou Road near People’s Square, said he was fascinated with buses since very young and especially impressed by the No. 49 bus which passed the street where he lived every day.

“I found that No. 49 buses were upgraded most frequently and people who took the bus always had a smile on their face,” he said. “It was after I grew older I realized that the successful operation of a bus line takes a lot of effort.”

After the conductors were gone from the buses, Xu proposed that the buses be equipped with an emergency kit containing heart attack relief pills, summer stroke relief balm, car sickness pills, band-aid, vomit bags, napkins and umbrellas to address the needs of passengers.

“Once when I was driving I heard someone asking to open the window so a passenger could throw up. I immediately advised the passengers near me to take the emergency kit to the ailing commuter,” Xu recalled. “This way the person got help and there was not littering of the street.”

Shanghai Daily yesterday ran into a 73-year-old man surnamed Li who lives in a residential complex on Zhaojiabang Road in Xuhui District who was taking a No. 49 bus from Fuzhou Road to his home.

Li said he has been taking the bus since the 1950s when his family moved to this part of the city and was satisfied with the service. “They had the first buses in the city imported from Czechoslovakia at the time, those with big noses,” he said. “They have always had skilled drivers who make the ride for passengers very smooth.”


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