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March 3, 2010

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Metro ponders more signs in English

IT'S a "common problem," according to Shanghai's subway operator: Foreigners line up for a long time to buy tickets in front of a window next to turnstiles in a Metro station, only to find the window is for refunding or recharging transport cards.

Because of mix-ups like that, Shanghai Shentong Group is considering adding more English signs to Metro stations, especially to some of the busy ones.

The operator is planning to put bilingual signs on the windows "if there is enough space."

But a spokesman said the translations needed further consideration to avoid Chinglish, or awkward wording from the Chinese, as the Shanghai 2010 World Expo drew near.

The issue gained urgency on Monday when a new Metro safety regulation went into effect - a ban on bringing folding bikes, roller skates and a number of other items into stations.

That same day, a Canadian called Shanghai Daily to say he was stopped when carrying a folding bike into a station.

There was no notice about the banned items outside the station that he was able to read, the foreigner said.

The expat working in the city, who declined to be named, said subway workers asked him to leave the station and "acted rude."

Shentong said it was an individual case and that most passengers, both Chinese and expats, had abided by the new regulation.

The operator said that translating the regulation into English and putting the bilingual version at stations would take time and "might not be feasible."

Shentong said listing all banned items in English would take too much space and might cause trouble if the translation misled. More than 20 items are banned on subways, according to Metro police.

On the other hand, Shentong has put up blue signs in English notifying passengers to go through security checks as more X-ray machines have gone into use.

It's not just the Metro. Foreigners also find themselves confused by the city's bus system, because many bus stops lack English descriptions of the routes.

City traffic authorities still have no further plans to add English signs all through the transport system.


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