Long lines as Metro passengers try out new QR code system

The number of smartphones equipped with an app that allows passengers to pay their fare by scanning a QR code rises to more than a million. 
Long lines as Metro passengers try out new QR code system
Xu Lingchao / SHINE

A long queue of commuters can be seen at the Pengpu Xincun Station on Line 1 during morning peak hour on Monday, the first working day when the new QR scan payment method went into effect.

Metro stations witnessed an overwhelming number of passengers itching to try out the new QR scan payment method on Monday, the first working day after the system was introduced.

The number of smartphones downloading the “Metro daduhui” app increased from 840,000 on Saturday to 1.41 million by 10am on Monday, according to Shanghai Shentong Metro Group.

Extra officers and volunteers were sent to Metro stations help passengers with any problems regarding the app as well as to keep order. 

The increase in demand highlighted the shortage of suitably equipped turnstiles.

At the Pengpu Xincun Station on Line 1 around 8:45am, the line of passengers waiting to use their phones stretched out of the station's hall onto its pedestrian bridge. 

“I lined up for more than 10 minutes,” said Qiu Chi, who takes Line 1 every morning to work. “I ended up using my transport card as I was running late for work.”

Qiu said though Pengpu Xincun Station is always crowded around 9am on working days, she never had to wait for a long time in a queue. She said she would rather use the public transport card if the turnstile issue continued. “I don’t have that much time to queue up,” Qiu told Shanghai Daily. “It was exhausting just to get in to the station.”

Passengers who took the Metro at hub stations like People’s Square and Zhongshan Park had a better experience as these stations have more entrances to facilitate passenger flow.

Lin Junpeng, a volunteer at the People’s Square Station who was helping passengers to correctly use the app said some passengers hadn’t turned on their Bluetooth while others held their phones too close to the scanner.

“We would tell the passengers to hold their phones 5 centimeters away from the machine so that it can read the whole QR code,” said Lin.

Lin told Shanghai Daily that though passenger flow in the station was huge during morning rush hour, because the station has multiple entrances and all entrances had two turnstiles for QR code scanning, passengers were able to get in smoothly.

All turnstiles in stations along Line 17 and the east extension of Line 9 support QR scanning. Other stations are equipped with two turnstiles supporting QR scans at each entrance and exit. 

The Metro operator said it was fully aware of the shortage of turnstiles and plans to modify more turnstiles. “But it is hard to set a detailed schedule as it can be a huge project,” said Feng Hao, a Metro staff member. He said the work could only be done after operating hours.

“Every turnstile will have to run tests and sync with the whole system which also will take some time,” Feng said.

By 8:30pm on Monday, about 580,000 people had used the new system. Though a small number compared to the 11 million daily commuters, that was more than three times the number scanning the QR code on Saturday.

Metro operators said they will reinforce the officer and volunteer teams to help passengers and keep order. They urged passengers not using the app to use other turnstiles so passengers using it can enter the station quicker.

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