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August 14, 2009

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Commuters fancy umbrellas

ANOTHER 500 umbrellas will be made available for subway commuters even though about 40 percent are likely to never be returned, the Metro authority said yesterday.

Most of the umbrellas will be sent to Line 2 stations.

The free service called "Love Umbrella" has been extended to all eight lines since it was launched in August last year.

Commuters can borrow an umbrella as long as they register their names and telephone numbers at the station's service center. There is no deposit.

About 70 percent of commuters who borrowed umbrellas returned them at the beginning of this year, but the return rate dropped to 60 percent in the past few weeks as it rained more often.

There are a total of 30,000 umbrellas available and some major stations such as People's Square Station keaep 20 umbrellas.

The Metro authority said they will provide more umbrellas if needed.

Another six umbrellas were sent to Nanjing Road E. Station on Line 2 yesterday as it had run out after lending its stock of 20.

"Not a single umbrella has been returned, so we definitely need more," said a station worker.

Another worker at the Nanjing Road E, Station said passengers sometimes return umbrellas to different stations.

At Dongchang Road Station on Line 2, a station worker surnamed Xu said that among 16 people who had borrowed umbrellas recently, only three had returned them.

Some passengers kept the umbrellas because they did not want to register again and again as it has rained almost every day of late, Xu said.

The station staff will call people if they fail to return umbrellas within seven days. But some commuters leave fake numbers.

"It's also very hard to check if people returned umbrellas to other stations," said Feng Hao, an official with Shanghai Shentong Group, the Metro operator.

"All we can do is remind commuters to return the umbrellas," Feng said.

Even with a low return rate, officials said they will not charge for the service.

"The service is for the public good," said Feng.

Metro operators also said that they are looking for corporate partners who can co-finance the program by adding adverts on the umbrellas.

Most of the umbrellas have been paid for by a local business and they cost about 10 yuan (US$1.46) each.


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