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May 23, 2011

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Metro umbrellas back for plum rain season

A FREE umbrella rental service is on offer at local Metro line stations again as the city prepares for the imminent arrival of the plum rain season.

People can borrow an umbrella at a station by registering their name and cellphone number, and are expected to return it to the same station within a week, said the Shanghai Metro Operations Management Center.

Some 30,000 umbrellas have been distributed to all Metro stations.

Officials said these are bright yellow-colored and adorned with the Shanghai Metro logo.

A heart-shaped design is also printed on the umbrellas, indicating that they are made from recycled materials.

The center has also called for volunteers to repair broken umbrellas.

The Metro operator has offered the service in the past, but umbrella numbers dwindled as people didn't return them.

Officials said this time they will call or text borrowers with reminders to return them.

"We hope that, while enjoying the service, users also think of other people who might also need an umbrella," said Huang Qiongnuo, an official with the center.

But some commuters said it would be inconvenient to return umbrellas to the station they were borrowed from.

Commuter Li Qing asked: "What if I borrow it from a suburban station where I don't go to very often? It will be a lot of hassle going back just to return an umbrella."

In March, officials said commuters not returning umbrellas loaned at stations forced them to make the service on-request only.

The free service was first launched six years ago. While 20,000 umbrellas were first provided, earlier this year only 600 remained.


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