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August 26, 2011

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Metro called safe but hardly perfect

THE air quality is poor, designs are dull and turnstiles are not user-friendly in the city's Metro system, subway authorities admitted yesterday, but they said there are no safety hazards.

Metro authorities were responding to an expert's questions from a day earlier. Lai Zengxiang, a senior architecture expert at Tongji University, said the designs and structures of city Metro stations are "too simple."

"Some foreign architects told me that Metro stations in China are built with no human interest inside," said Lai during a rail and Metro equipment exhibition on Wednesday.

And he suggested there were health and safety issues. Passengers cannot get enough fresh air at underground stations, for example, he said.

The expert, who helped design People's Square Station years ago, said he was "embarrassed by his own designs."

"The space is not large enough even with all the renovations later," Lai said.

He added that Metro turnstiles have potential safety hazards in emergencies, noting that door-shaped turnstiles, popular among Metros overseas, are largely absent in Shanghai. He said they should be introduced on a larger scale here.

"We have to say it's not true," said a Metro official surnamed Yin, who works for the local operator, Shanghai Shentong Metro Group.

Yin said the barriers of the turnstiles would be laid down and allow a huge volume of passengers to get out in an emergency.

The door-shaped turnstiles are now used only at stations connected to traffic hubs such as airports and railway stations to let the passengers with large luggage go through.

But Yin said they "are not suitable for the huge daily rider turnout" in every station.

More than 5 million passengers ride Shanghai's 11 Metro lines each day, and the turnout will soon surpass 6 million with new lines put into operation. It is one of the world's largest subway systems.

That may explain the poor air quality problem at the stations, said Metro officials.

Meanwhile, Metro builders said part of the space underground should be left for ventilation use and equipment, which would compress the remaining space for people at the underground stations.

"For most of the time we just view the stations as a traffic hub without thinking about much else," said Lai.

"In Moscow they vowed to build a 'people's palace' in the Metro spaces and they did," said the professor who once studied there.


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