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Shoppers to ride after midnight

FOR the first time since Shanghai's Metro system went into operation in 1995, the closing hours for Line 1 are being extended by about an hour because of the huge crowds of shoppers expected to turn out for May Day sales and a mammoth prize giveaway in the Xujiahui commercial circle.

The big sales event is scheduled for Thursday. So instead of closing down around 11pm, the Xujiahui station will remain in operation until 12:10am on Friday in order to help more of the midnight shoppers get back home, the Metro operator said yesterday. Trains will run through the station at 15-minute intervals during the extra hour of service.

Metro officials said they took the step because many people had trouble getting back home after being attracted to the Xujiahui shopping malls by heavy discounts on New Year's Eve when stores also stayed open until midnight. Those missing the last Metro train had to fight for taxis, which were too few to accommodate the crowds.

In addition to product discounts, a 2-million-yuan (US$293,000) prize package sponsored by Xuhui District government is expected to further heighten the shopping enthusiasm.

The government will give away three Mercedes-Benz sedans and 150 gold bars. Each 200 yuan spent at any of nine designated stores in Xujiahui earns a lucky draw ticket. The promotion, which ends on May 10, is expected to generate some 100 million yuan in sales for the commercial center, where business has been off because of the financial downturn and construction in the area.

"We fear that some shoppers will still miss the last Metro train given the great attraction of the business promotion, but we have done all that is possible and affordable in prolonging the train service," said Wu Xinyi, a Metro official.

District government also promised shoppers it would have bus companies operate temporary overnight routes.


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