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May 3, 2017

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Extended Metro hours welcomed as traffic record broken yet again

FRIDAY was a record day for Metro traffic — the first day the system introduced an extended night schedule to seven lines.

The number of commuter trips reached nearly 11.9 million, 75,000 higher than the previous record. This was also the fourth time this year that traffic records on the Metro were broken.

Most stations in downtown had extended their operating hours until midnight over the weekend.

“If I did not get on the train, it might take me a good while to secure a taxi to go home,” said a passenger surnamed Zhang, who was traveling on Line 1 on Friday around midnight, when the line would have been closed for an hour under the old timetable.

Like Zhang, many residents and tourists were grateful the Metro will now stay open longer. A total of 17,000 passengers were ferried during the extended operation hours on Friday, including over 6,000 on Line 10, 5,000 on Line 2 and more than 2,000 on Line 1.

“Any extension of the timetable is welcome news,” said Kenneth Jarrett, president of The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, which has been urging extended Metro hours.

“Shanghai is not a city that shuts down at 10:30 and the absence of the Metro as a mass transportation option after 10:30pm is a major inconvenience,” said Jarrett. “It is also inconsistent with Shanghai’s ambitions to become a global city.”

As a New Yorker, Jarrett said he was accustomed to a subway system that ran for 24 hours. “Interestingly, the length of Shanghai’s Metro network now exceeds that of New York City, but in terms of operating hours, Shanghai still has a long way to go,” he said, adding he hoped the system could operate until 2am, even if trains were to run less frequently. Other expats in Shanghai, particularly those used to an extended or overnight Metro service, echoed Jarrett’s viewpoint.

The Metro operator told Shanghai Daily that its key challenge lay in the city’s Metro rail design.

In cities with overnight Metro services, networks had two or even more rail lines, which meant when one was under maintenance, others were still available for operation, said Yang Yizhong, an officer with the Metro operator.

However, Shanghai’s Metro was based on single rail for a single direction, which left little time for Metro workers to ensure a safe operation.

Last weekend’s extension cut the maintenance window by about a third, according to the Metro operator.

“With the maintenance window cut, we have to speed up the work and improve our efficiency,” said Shan Guokai, a Line 1 maintenance official. Shan’s job is to inspect the trains to ensure their key components are in place and to fix any potential issues such as a loose bolt.

Three maintenance groups — train maintenance, signal information maintenance and cleaning — have to prepare about 22 trains on Line 1’s Meilong Base, where Shan works, to be ready by 3:30am, to enable the trains to be ready for drivers.

Metro station staff and the Metro police also extended their working hours to match the later operating times.

From last Friday, lines 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10 extended their schedules by 70 to 80 minutes on Fridays, Saturdays and the night before national holidays; while lines 10 and 16 extended their operating hours by 25 and 30 minutes respectively through Sunday to Thursday.


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