Friday, November 14, 2008

Xiamen BRT

A while back we talked about when construction started on a raised highway for buses, and back in September they had mostly completed it and open it up for customers. It's called the Xiamen BRT which stands for Bus Rapid Transit -don't ask why they use an acronym in English.

At first we thought it was just a big waste of money, as it hasn't really helped to ease the traffic congestion below it, but it does help you to get across the island and over to the main land fairly quickly.

One thing that is nice, is that I can take it to and from work, as there are lower connector bus routes and at both ends I am no more than a five minute walk from a station. This helps a lot coming home in the evenings because for only 2.50 ( 0.40 USD) I can take the BRT an be home in exactly 1 hour. The work shuttle bus generally takes 1:15, and now with the raised roadway for the BRT the lower road jams up pretty bad with people trying to do u-turns, which often extended the trip home.

I put up with the shuttle for a while until Eric, I guy I work with, showed me which bus to catch and how to make the transfers. None of the signs are in English, well other then the meaning of BRT.

It's a nice set-up and I like it. I've been told that the government is subsidizing most of the cost and that they're losing money with the fares as low as they are. But there are always people on them, and there are enough so that you're never waiting more the 2-3 minutes for the next on to come along. Eric had informed me that you never want to get onto them after 17:30 as they would just be far too crowded.

Well, tonight I ended up working a little late and got to see first hand what Eric meant by a little crowded. I got on the bus around 18:15, and the loop connector bus was jammed with probably 10 people more then it should ever hold, but we've learned here how to deal with that and I just pushed my way on. Once you get up to the raised, bus only, section it's just a mob of people and a little guard that is trying to get people to line up in a queue. This would be fun to watch - most times people kind of listen, but then there's only 4 or 5 of us. Tonight it wasn't going to happen, everyone mobbed to the doors when the bus pulls up, myself included, and tried to force their way on once the sliding doors on the platform open. At the same time people are trying to get off the bus, it's a hectic mess just like us trying to get off of our elevator some evenings.

But the one nice thing is that it still only took one hour to get home. It was a little tough since I was standing the whole time and pressed in between a whole mass of other commuters. Overall, as I said, I like it just because it does give me slightly more options when getting home from work....


Nomadic Matt said...

that is some serious pollution in the first photo.

Mark said...

No thats not pollution, just the haze of humidity...
We're lucky in that Xiamen is one of the cleanest cities in China and we often do get to enjoy blue skies.

heather said...

Sounds no different from the El.