Rush-hour rider limitations grow on Metro

Rush-hour rider limitations grow on Metro

PASSENGER restrictions are spreading to more Metro stations due to safety concerns about the increasing volume of rush-hour passengers and a lack of sufficient transportation capacity, the subway's operator said.

The problem has been especially acute at stations of Metro Line 3, one of the city's busiest, in the mornings. Metro officials also have had to take measures on lines 4, 6 and 8.

The subway operator issues crowd alerts during heavy Metro usage on information boards or via cellphone messages, but not everyone hears in time.

Passengers unaware of the restrictions can find themselves suddenly facing long lines and arriving late for work, leading to complaints.

"It's so crowded that for awhile I did not even feel my arms," said a passenger at the Line 3's Jiangwang Town Station about 8am yesterday. "But the restrictions seem not working at all."

Passengers waiting to get into the station lined up at turnstile machines, eager to squeeze ahead, as some machines were closed as a crowd-control measure yesterday morning.

Some stations that have never required restrictions, such as the Songbing Road and Shuichan Road stops on northern Line 3, have been hit by big crowds, causing the closure of turnstiles and some escalators. Passengers crept along like snails yesterday morning.

A subway official surnamed Yin said yesterday that "restrictions have gradually become a common practice on city subways."

"Interval times have been cut with more trains added, but it's still lagging behind the passenger turnouts," Yin said.

Trains on lines 6 and 8, as well as 3 and 4, have been running "at their full capacity," an official said. Reserve trains also are being used to help alleviate the pressure.

Shanghai's Metro will see an upgrade this year with three new subway lines or extensions going into service, said Shanghai Transport and Construction Commission, but that also means more riders using the system.

The Metro system set a new record for daily passengers of 8.48 million on March 8. The system's average is over 6 million a day and it is not infrequent for daily numbers to hit 7 million.

"The subway still is the best way to commute," said Thomas Lu, a office worker who uses the Metro every day and does not own a car. "Either you struggle onto it or pushed by others to stumble onto it."

Meanwhile, subway trains will be added and shuttle buses are prepared to make connections to cemeteries as the traditional Qingming Festival, or tomb-sweeping day, approaches on April 4, said traffic authorities. More than 8.2 million people and 720,000 vehicles are expected to turn out.