Shenzhen trials female-priority subway carriages
Shenzhen Metro Group launched an innovative “ladies first” trial on Monday, with the aim of providing a better and safer traveling experience for female passengers.
The Metro operator in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, is the first city in the country to provide the service when it designated the first and last carriages on Line 1, 3, 4 and 5 as the "Priority Carriages for Women.”
A Shenzhen Metro Group official said the aims of the company were to advocate a civilized concept of "ladies first" to the whole of society not just on public transport.
The new initiative does not mean men are excluded from travelling in the same carriage as women and neither does it mean there will be exclusive carriages for women only. But men are being encouraged to show their gentility when carriages are overcrowded.
Male riders are welcome to share the female-priority carriages if other carriages are crowded and the "Priority Carriages for Women" are relatively spacious, especially during rush hours, the operator said. Broadcasting and signs are available in the stations to guide the passengers.
Yet on the first day of the trial operation, most of the riders were unaware of the new initiative.
A reporter on a female-priority carriage on Metro Line 3, at the Futian Station, witnessed only 40 percent of passengers, in her compartment, were women while several male riders sat on the seats while the members of the opposite sex were standing.
A woman, in the same carriage, surnamed Li, told the reporter, she didn't know she was in the female-priority carriage. She admitted there didn't appear to be any difference between the carriage she was in and the other carriages. Li said: "Since it is a 'ladies first' carriage, women should have priority to sit in the seats."
A woman surnamed Zhao who entered a female-priority carriage to try the new service expressed her disappointment. She said: "I didn't expect to see so many male riders on this carriage. There were even more men than females in the carriage. And no man gave up his seat for a woman."
A man, surnamed Wang, was embarrassed when he realized he was sitting in a female-priority carriage and immediately gave his seat. He also expressed his full support behind Shenzhen Metro’s new move, and said: "ladies first should be promoted."
Other residents also hailed the move and showed their understanding. One commuter said: "It is a boon for women. Certainly there would be difficulties in implementing something new initially. We need some time to enable people to cultivate the habit of giving priority to women."