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April 9, 2010

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Sightseers flock to a longer Line 2

AIR travelers largely stayed away from Metro Line 2's east extension to Pudong International Airport yesterday, the first day of service, but locals poured onto the trains for sightseeing.

Some air travelers said they didn't know the line was now linked to the airport. Others preferred the familiar means of getting there, such as by taxis, shuttle bus or maglev.

Shanghai Shentong Group, the subway operator, said the operation was "smooth and reported no congestion and passenger surge."

The extension - eight new stops running east from Guanglan Road Station - now operates on limited hours, 9am to 4pm. More than 17,000 riders took the extension by 3pm yesterday.

The station at the Pudong airport handled about 500 passengers within an hour soon after the extension opened yesterday morning, said Hu Jianmin, the head of the station.

Despite signboards informing people that the subway was open, many travelers, especially foreign passengers, chose to take country's only maglev line as soon as they landed.

"It's a faster and safer trip," said a Russian passenger who declined to be named.

The maglev operator said it has no plan reducing the price so far. The single ticket is priced at 50 yuan (US$7.32) for the eight minute ride from Longyang Road Station to the airport.

The same ride on Line 2 costs six yuan, but takes at least 45 minutes.

Locals who rode the new train had plenty to look at. On part of an elevated track in the outskirts of Pudong New Area, passengers got a view of coastline, planes and the moving maglev - combined, if they were lucky.

"It's really an interesting experience," said Chen Yongzhen, a 76-year-old resident who traveled with his wife.

For residents living in Pudong's suburban area, the subway cut the traveling time to the airport in half. Their bus ride took two hours.

From the Line 2's last stop, it's six- to seven-minute walk to get to the Pudong airport's two terminals.

But subway managers warned people to leave plenty of time because the extension is still in a pilot phase and luggage is subject to security checks.

Metro officials said passengers shouldn't carry large luggage or goods weighing more than 20 kilograms or bigger than 0.15 cubic meters onto Line 2.

They said overcrowding the carriage could be dangerous.


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