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August 26, 2009

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Rush hour slowdowns hobble 4 Metro lines

FOUR Shanghai Metro lines suffered separate breakdowns during morning rush hour yesterday, but stranded riders didn't seem to get as steamed as they usually do.

The reason: A new public information system that's designed to give a heads-up on breakdowns so commuters can take alternative transportation appeared to do its job.

Shanghai's Metro operator launched the multi-media network this month in a bid to improve transparency and reduce anger over breakdowns.

"Up-to-date information on the mobile TVs on Metro platforms, train carriages and buses explained what happened and how long the problems might last," said Yin Wei, a media coordination official with the Metro management company. There were also updates on the Metro Website and on city radio.

Major hub snarled

And it helped that the delays weren't as long as the near-hour-long outage last month that inconvenienced hundreds of thousands of commuters. Those who felt the effects of yesterday's glitches probably numbered in the thousands.

The morning got off to a troubled start at 7:57, when service on lightly used Line 9, running in suburban Songjiang District, stopped for 18 minutes because of a brake system problem.

The next glitch involved a Line 2 train that also experienced brake trouble, causing a five-minute service delay at the People's Square Station - the city's busiest Metro hub - at 8:25am.

The problem that produced the worst snarl occurred at the same station at 8:42am, holding up Line 1 service for 12 minutes and delaying commuters transferring from lines 2 and 8 at the transit hub. It was caused by a southbound train that broke down after a door failed to close.

Fast action

"We immediately restricted access for commuters transferring to Line 1 from Line 2 and 8 over safety concerns," said Lan Tian, a Metro management official.

Later, Line 4 experienced a nine-minute breakdown after a train door malfunction at 8:42am.

The breakdowns didn't seem to stir up as much anger among Netizens as they usually do. And some Metro workers said yesterday's crowds seemed more patient during the problems and they were confronted with fewer name-calling passengers.

On the Shanghai Metro Fans Club site, one person wrote, "We can understand that busy lines face more frequent problems."

Xi Shimian, who works for a media services company for Zhangjiang High-Tech Park in Pudong, said he's happy that he can access Metro service information via the Internet on his mobile phone.

"It's a great improvement from the past," said Xi.


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