The bus. Convenient, cheap, less crowded than the metro (for the most part), and you can stay above ground instead of descending into a subterranean advertising tunnel network lit like a vivisection lab. And your personal space is under the knife.
But as long as the wheels on the bus go round and round, Shanghai’s public bus network can take you places the Metro wouldn’t even consider, in more comfort, and with the cheaper fare. But for non-Chinese speakers (here: readers), taking advantage of this public service might be a bit of a problem.
However, we are revealing small tips on how to successfully accomplish your bus journey in Shanghai.
Before setting off, check to find out which bus to take with one of these handy apps.
1) Google Maps, though it requires VPN, still has all the bus routes, and it’s all in English. Take that, Great Firewall of China.
2) Apple Maps doesn’t need a VPN, and is pretty spot on with routes and schedules. So you didn’t pay all that extra cash just for “style” and “brand status”.
3) 百度地图 – Baidu Maps. While not in English, if you can learn just enough Chinese to use the app, or just already can read Chinese, Baidu Maps is the best application because it clearly displays all possible and convenient routes.
4) 熊猫出行Xíongmāo Chūxíng (literal translation: Panda is going on the journey). Another non-English app. Includes the full list of bus lines and bus stops, easy to use. We found Baidu Maps easier to use. But you can’t beat that app name.
Taking the Bus
People are standing around near the curb, like usual, so how can you tell if there’s even a bus stop or not? And then is it even the right bus stop?
Step 1: Pick the destination. Let’s say your address is 2577 Lónghuá Road ( 龙华路). Look upon Baidu or Google maps the closest intersection street. Basically, the name of the bus stop responds to the crossing streets, in our case its Lónghuá Road and Huāróng Road (龙华路花容路), which, eventually, is the name of the bus stop.
You step on the bus, and all the different slots and doodads are overwhelming you, all while the driver seems completely apathetic to your overall existence and people all around you are talking very loud, but it’s all in Chinese so you can’t tell whether they’re trying to help you or berating you for being foreign. Step 1.5: Don’t break down and right there decide to leave China.
Step 2: Before getting on the bus, prepare Shanghai public transportation card as you have to scan it right next to the driver or prepare 2 RMB in coins, as it is impossible to get change.
Step 3: Get on the bus through the front door only. Throw your coins into the box or scan your card on the hanging device. Both things are right next to the driver.
Step 4: Take a seat, relax, and enjoy the view.
Step 5: Listen to the stop announcements on the bus. Once it says you’re arriving at your stop, for example, “Lónghuá Road Huāróng Road dàole.” Or just listen to the English language announcement. An announcement also plays in Shanghainese, so enjoy that.
There are two types of buses in Shanghai, short distance buses and long-distance. The difference is on the first one you pay the fixed price 2 RMB (you throw the coins into the box right next to the driver or scan the card). The long-distance bus has a ticket seller on board. The price depends on the distance, it may vary from 2 RMB to 20 RMB.
And that’s it. You have all you need to ride the public buses in Shanghai. Wasn’t much, right? Well, it’s not exactly rocket science, but it is all in Chinese.
by Jane Polubotko