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Expat Exchange - Public Transportation in Shanghai 2024
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Shanghai, China


Public Transportation in Shanghai

By Betsy Burlingame

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: Learning how to get around using public transportation in Shanghai is an important step in adjusting to life in Shanghai. In this article, we cover the local public transportation options.

Shanghai, is a bustling metropolis with a population of over 24 million people. As such, it has a comprehensive public transportation system that includes the Shanghai Metro, city buses, taxis, and ferries. The Shanghai Public Transportation Card, a rechargeable smart card, can be used on all these modes of transport, making it convenient for both locals and expats. With such an extensive network, it's entirely possible for an expat to live comfortably in Shanghai without a car, relying solely on public transportation and walking.

Shanghai Metro

The Shanghai Metro is the city's rapid transit system, and it's one of the most extensive in the world. With 16 lines and over 400 stations, it covers nearly every corner of the city. The metro operates from around 5:30 am to 11:00 pm, making it a reliable mode of transport for daily commuting. It's generally safe, even at night, and is used by people of all ages, including children going to school. A single trip can cost anywhere from 3 to 9 RMB, depending on the distance traveled. The metro is also equipped with English signs and announcements, making it expat-friendly.

City Buses

Shanghai's city buses complement the metro system, reaching areas that the metro doesn't cover. There are over 1,000 bus lines in Shanghai, operating from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm, with some lines running 24 hours. The buses are safe and reliable, though they can get crowded during peak hours. The fare is usually 2 RMB, regardless of the distance. However, the bus system can be a bit challenging for expats as most information is in Chinese.

Taxis

Taxis are another popular mode of transport in Shanghai. They are metered and relatively affordable, with a starting fare of 14 RMB for the first 3 kilometers and 2.5 RMB for each additional kilometer. Taxis are available 24/7 and can be hailed on the street or booked through apps like Didi. They are generally safe, but it's advisable to have your destination written in Chinese as most drivers don't speak English.

Ferries

Shanghai's location on the Huangpu River means that ferries are a viable mode of transport. There are several ferry lines connecting the Pudong and Puxi sides of the city. The ferries are safe and offer a unique way to see the city. A single trip costs around 2 RMB. However, they are not as frequent as the metro or buses, with most lines operating from 6:30 am to 9:30 pm.

Bike Sharing

Bike sharing is a recent addition to Shanghai's public transportation system. Companies like Mobike and Ofo provide thousands of bikes that can be rented through a smartphone app. The bikes are a convenient way to cover short distances or to commute to and from metro stations. They are safe to use, with dedicated bike lanes on most roads. The cost is usually 1 RMB per 30 minutes.

In conclusion, Shanghai's public transportation system is extensive, affordable, and generally safe. While it may take some time for expats to get used to it, especially the bus system, it's entirely possible to live in Shanghai without a car. In fact, given the city's traffic congestion and the difficulty of finding parking, it might even be preferable.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell

Shanghai, China

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