Shanghai Transportation

Shanghai Transportation Overview

Transportation within Shanghai is fairly inexpensive and certainly varied. Those adhering to tighter budgets, or those who simply enjoy traveling with the locals, can make use of the buses and subway. They are relatively painless ways to save a few RMB that could be better spent elsewhere. However, if claustrophobia is a concern (be wary of the subway and buses around commuter times), then taxis are a great and still relatively inexpensive option. For those traveling in style (or on business), private cars can be hired at prices that are still a deal compared with New York or London. For details, read the articles in this section to decide which is the best option for you.

Shanghai Taxi

The base fare for every taxi in Shanghai is 11RMB. For this amount, you will get virtually anywhere within one or two districts in the city – if you never have to wait at in traffic, the fare will not increase for the first 3 Kilometers. However, the stand-still time will affect the fare, so if you are stuck in traffic the fare will still increase faster than 3K. The base fare rises to 14RMB after 11pm.

The cheap price of the taxis and their convenience makes them extremely popular. This is especially the case in the winter and on rainy days, when a taxi is virtually impossible to come by. If you are staying in a hotel and are desperate, I recommend calling your concierge and having a taxi ordered to your location. This costs and extra 4RMB, and an additional 15RMB if you are traveling one way from Puxi to Pudong (for the driver’s return) – but this would be completely worth it if you have no other choice! Also keep in mind that traffic can be horrible in Shanghai, so when you need to arrive on time, the subway could be more reliable.

There are several taxi companies in town, with Dazhong (designated by its blue taxis) as the overwhelming favorite amongst locals and tourists. If you are given the choice, jump in a blue one over say a maroon colored one (my least favorite – almost every driver I have had has been rude). The city has also given each taxi driver a number and a ranking. The number tells you how long the driver has been with the taxi company, anything above 230,000 and you should expect to have some difficulty getting where you want to go; be it a little more swerving, honking, or a few wrong turns. The ranking system apparently indicates a number of things, and it is said that one of the most important is the driver’s English knowledge. Also the overwhelming majority of drivers are honest, metres which tick over a bit faster or more scenic routes are not unheard of but are still uncommon. The only taxi's you should definately avoid are the drivers who don't queue at the rank at either the airports or the railway station.

Two very important things to remember: One, ALWAYS carry a card with your hotel address written in Chinese on it. Even if you think you can say the name correctly, the driver most likely will not understand. Second, despite the fact that it looks like there are no road rules in Shanghai, you are really very safe. There is some unspoken rule among drivers on the road that makes just about everything work. So just sit back and try to relax

Shanghai Subway - Metro

The subway is a great, reliable way to get around Shanghai. Its cheap (from 3 – 7RMB), quick, clean, and pretty easy to navigate. There are maps near the ticket booths that tell you your fare in English, making it easy to simply hand over the exact change to the ticket seller (therefore comfortably avoiding language barriers). The automated machines next to the booths are also user friendly and in English. Just select the line and then choose the station. The machines accept notes and coins.

You can also purchase a public transportation card at the subway ticket windows, which you can use at all the subways, bus routes and in all of the taxis. The card is free, but you must pay a 30RMB deposit that you will get back when you return the card. During rush hour this can make a huge difference, as lines can be really long at the ticket windows.
A word of warning: The Shanghai metro system is expanding, but is currently still only 5 lines that transport a HUGE number of people everyday. During rush hour these trains can be stiflingly crowded. The crowds can certainly reach a level of unbearable for those who are even somewhat claustrophobic. Actually, experiencing the metro at these hours could theoretically cause one to develop claustrophobia. I’ve personally witness a train that was fuller than that of Tokyo, which I had previously believed to be impossible

The official Shanghai Metro Website

Shanghai City Bus

In Shanghai public buses cost 1 yuan per trip for normal buses and 2 yuan per trip for the air-conditioned buses.

The public bus system is quite extensive, but the signs at bus stops are usually only labeled in Chinese. If you know Chinese or can get somebody to help you pick your route, the bus can be more convenient than the subway and cheaper than a cab.

Shanghai Airport Bus

# From To Price
1 Pu Dong Airport Hong Qiao Airport 22 RMB
2 Pu Dong Airport Shanghai Exihition Center (Near Ritz Carlton or People's Square) 19 RMB
3 Pu Dong Airport Zun Yi Road 20 RMB
4 Pu Dong Airport East Jiang Wan Rd. 18 RMB
5 Pu Dong Airport Shanghai Railway Station 18 RMB
6 Pu Dong Airport Tao Pu Road (Shanghai West Railway Station) 18 RMB

Shanghai Maglev Trains

A running maglev train is seen in Shanghai on May 6, 2006. Maglev train can travel at a speed of up to 430 kilometres per hour.

Longyang Road Station : First train: 7:00 Last train: 21:00
Pudong Airport Station: First train: 7:02 Last train: 21:02
Headway: each 20 minutes

In order to fulfill the requirements of the numerous passengers, the operation period of Shanghai Maglev Train shall be extended from 9 hours each day (8:30 -17:30) to 14 hours (7:00-21:00) as of December 1, 2007.

In response to the call of the central government of P.R.C on the establishment of a resource-saving type of society, the maximum operation speed shall be adjusted to 300 km/h from 430km/h and the single way travel shall take 8 minutes and 10 seconds instead of 7 minutes and 20 seconds during the extended period of time (from 7:00 to 8:30 and from 17:30 to 21:00). The maximum speed during the original operation period of 9 hours (from 8:30 to 17:30) remains at 430 km/h for the purpose of fulfilling the demonstration function of Shanghai Maglev Line and the need of passengers for experiencing flying at the limit speed of 430km/h. The headway during the whole operation period shall be 15 minutes.

The official Shanghai Maglev Train Website

Shanghai Railway Station

Shanghai Railway Station
The Shanghai Railway Station is the main train station in Shanghai. Trains to and from every part of China depart, arrive, and pass through Shanghai Station, including destinations such as Beijing, Qingdao, Harbin, Chengdu, Nanjing, or nearby Mount Huang (Huangshan). If you are travelling locally, to the west or to the north, then this should be the first station you should check for tickets.

This station is located in the northern part of Shanghai, and subway lines 1, 3 and 4 all meet at a massive interchange located below the railway station itself. The central long-distance bus station is located within sight of the northwest corner of the train station. Needless to say, there are also many many local bus routes that stop at this station.

Shanghai South Railway Station
Shanghai South Railway Station is located in the southwest part of Shanghai along subway lines 1 and 3. It runs on a separate rail line which approaches Shanghai from the southwest.

Shanghai West Railway Station
The relatively small Shanghai West Railway Station is positioned on the same rail line as Shanghai Railway Station. Most trains that leave from here go to nearby locations such as Nanjing, Wuxi, Suzhou and Hangzhou, but some trains also pass through Shanghai West Station on their way to Beijing and Guangzhou.

Shanghai Airport

Pudong International Airport
Traveling in China, particularly for the first time, is not the easiest thing. Luckily the Pudong International Airport is well organized and makes the first experience here a little easier than you might expect.

If you are staying at a hotel that has shuttles, which many of them do, you will find the desks immediately after you have left baggage claim. Often these hotels will want your flight information before you arrive, so get on their website and find out what their rules are. If your hotel does not offer this service, head past these desks, all the while ignoring offers for “good deals” into the city (they will usually quote you at about 500RMB, ridiculous), to the taxi stand at the end of the arrivals area. At the taxi stand an airport employee will ask you where you are going (in English), then he will tell the taxi driver in Chinese while you get in the cab. The ride should cost no more than about 150 – 200RMB all the way to Puxi and takes about an hour.

Another increasingly popular way to get into the city is the MagLev, or the magnetic levitation train (50RMB). The train will take you to the Longyang subway station (line 2) in Pudong in 8 minutes. It is extremely easy, but keep in mind that it will still be another 20 – 30 minutes from the stop to Puxi in a taxi. Otherwise you can get on the subway and take it all the way into town. With line changes and hundreds of people on the subways, this is often a lot more trouble than it is worth… so keep in mind what you will have to deal with if you are thinking about doing it that way. On the plus side the train travels at a top speed of 431kph which is really quite exciting.

The ride back to the airport from Puxi in a taxi is somehow cheaper; It usually costs about 125RMB from the French Concession. You can also catch a shuttle bus from various points around the city that go to the airport every 30 minutes. Departure points include Jing'an Temple, under the Portman Hotel, Zhonghsan Park, Hongkou Football stadium and both Shanghai Railway Station and South Railway Station Tickets are 16-20RMB. Shuttle bus number 1 connects to Hongqiao Airport (30RMB).

Hongqiao International Airport
Most internal flights arrive and depart from Hongqiao Airport, which is in Puxi and will be no more than 30 minutes by taxi from any destination within Puxi. The exceptions are most flights to Hainan Island, and some flights to Beijing and Guilin which leave from Pudong airport. Be sure to check with your travel agent or on your ticket which airport you are fliying from.

The official Shanghai Airport Website