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March 28, 2013

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Rider restrictions lead to quarrels on Metro

LONG waits at some crowded Metro stations on Line 3 are giving way to conflicts among angry commuters as rush-hour passenger restrictions are enforced.

"Clashes and quarrels happen around me every morning," said one passenger, watching as passengers waited at the Jiangwan Town station, one of the line's eight stations subject to restrictions that have raised public ire.

Others said they waited more than half an hour before being allowed into the restricted stations on Line 3.

"More than 10,000 riders swarm in within two hours in the morning rush hour" at two of the stations that have seen restrictions, said Metro official Wang Guanghua.

Eight stations of Line 3 from Baoshan Road to Changjiang Road S. are now restricted, with more expected to be included, said Metro officials. Restrictions are also starting to spread on Line 6 and Line 8.

The operator has apologized and sought understanding, but it is somewhat stuck because the trains have reached full capacity, officials said.

That angers some passengers.

"All the operator does is ask us to leave home earlier to avoid the peak," said a passenger, Chen Zhen, who lives in the city's north where Line 3 travels. "Why don't they figure out ways to add more trains to increase capacities?"

Some suggest adding shuttle buses between the stations to partly alleviate the pressure.

But the operator said the restrictions will continue along the line, especially on the northern section, since passenger volumes increase by about 20 percent on the busy line during rush hour.

Sun Zhang, a rail expert with Tongji University, said that "it's time to step up the pace of separating Line 3 and Line 4." The two lines share nine stations along the track, which makes it hard to increase capacity by cutting interval times, said Sun.

"If the two lines were separated, the interval times would likely be halves in theory," Sun said.

There is no detailed schedule for separation of the two lines, though the plan was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission last year.

Sometimes it is a rider who slows things down. A man was caught by police on Tuesday after he pulled the emergency handle on a crowded train on Line 3 during the morning rush, claiming he "felt sick onboard." Trains were delayed and some passengers temporarily stranded.

Metro passenger volumes are growing fast as lines are extended to suburban areas. The city's 12 lines handle 6 to 7 million passengers a day, with a record-breaking volume of 8.48 million one day this month.


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