All you need to ride on Shanghai's maglev is your phone

By scanning a QR code via their phone, passengers can take the train without a transportation card or a paid ticket. The technology will soon come into play at all Metro stations.
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

A woman uses her phone to scan a QR code to get into the Longyang Road maglev station on Monday.

Instead of using a transportation card or a paid ticket, from October 30 passengers taking Shanghai’s maglev can simply scan a QR code on their mobile phone — even without Internet access.

Shanghai Metro said on Monday it hopes that by the beginning of next year, passengers traveling throughout the network will be able to use this new paying method at every station.

This is a new function on the company’s official app “Metro daduhui,” where registered users can click on the “Chengche” or literally “taking a train” button and correlate their AliPay or a UnionPay card with the app so as to enable the pay method.

The Alipay option requires users to authorize paying without a password, and afterwards one needs only to press the “taking a train” button to get a QR code to be scanned on the turnstile machine to board the maglev.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The code is instantly read by the machine – in just 0.5 of a second according to the company – and then the passenger can pass through the turnstile.

The code immediately changes after the passenger enters the maglev station to prevent anyone else trying to squeeze through, and the passenger simply presses a button to get a new code to get out of the station with the fare automatically deducted from their account.

Both the Alipay and UnionPay options also enable users to top up their app account.

Wang Ziqiang, deputy general manager of the Operation Management Center of Shanghai Metro, said Shanghai is the first city in China to introduce wireless payment for train rides on its Metro system.

“Online paying has been realized somewhere else, but it usually takes two to three seconds for the machine to react to a request, which is much less efficient,” he said.

Also all paying methods are now integrated so that no new turnstile machines have to be added at Metro stations.

“We will have to work at night to update the machines, which slows down the effort, and we have about 10,000 turnstile machines to work on,” Wang said. “But soon all machines will be updated.”

Jin Tao, general manager of the Information Management Center of Shanghai Metro, told Shanghai Daily that the company will start to work on an English version of the app later next year.

To encourage people to try the new paying method, from November 1 to December 31, up to 200 users every day will be able to enjoy a free ride, according to Shanghai Metro.

The maglev runs between Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Longyang Road Station on Metro lines 2 and 7 and charges 50 yuan (US$8) for a one-way trip.


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