Bring-your-own seating at Metro rush hour

More than 10 million passengers take Shanghai Metro on weekdays with many of them finding it impossible to get a seat on the world's longest network.
Bring-your-own seating at Metro rush hour
Ti Gong

More than 10 million passengers take Shanghai Metro on weekdays with many of them finding it impossible to get a seat on the world’s longest network.

Some have taken to bringing their own stools, a common sight on suburban lines like 1, 3 and 11.

Photographer Jimmy Wang lives near Huaqiao Station, the Line 11 terminal in Kunshan in neighboring Jiangsu Province, and often takes the Metro downtown to meet clients.

From the first train at 5:45am until 10am, he said, the carriages are already packed as they leave Huaqiao.

“I sometimes take a stool with me. It takes more than an hour for me to arrive at Xujiahui,” he said. “And the crowded carriage seems to make the journey longer than it really is.”

Wang said he does not use the stool much in the morning because he is “fresh and bouncy,” but when he heads home around 10pm with equipment sometimes weighing more than 50 kilograms, he will take the stool out of his backpack.

“The night trains from the city to Huaqiao are also packed,” Wang said. “And I’m too tired to stand all the way home.”

Xu Xufeng, who takes Line 11 every day from Jiading Xincheng to Caoyang Road, said it is not unusual to see people sitting on the floor during rush hour.

He understands why people might bring stools. 

“There are no other lines to transfer to until Zhenru which is 15 stops from Huaqiao,” said Xu. “There are many residential communities located along the route and people get tired.”

More than 950,000 passengers take Line 11 every day, only the eighth busiest Metro line. However, during rush hour it can become very congested since it runs through a number of high-density housing areas.

Some passengers think stools are a safety risk. Office worker Zheng Yuan said he once saw a man almost trip over someone sitting on a stool near the door.

“It could be dangerous, both to people standing and the one sitting on the stool,” Zheng said. 

“What if the train suddenly brakes hard? People can get hurt.”

On other lines, such as lines 1 and 3 which pass Shanghai Railway Station, many passengers simply sit on their luggage.

The Metro operator said stools in carriages can block other passengers getting on and off as well as being a potential danger to others.

“The best we can do is to try to persuade people not to bring stools on the Metro,” said the Metro’s Yang Yizhong. 

“However, here is no rule forbidding them.”

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