Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How to: Ride the Bus

I love the bus system in Shanghai. It's easy, it's convenient, and it costly a measly 2 rmb (that's .32 US cents) to ride.

To be honest, it took me awhile to have the confidence to ride the bus. When we first moved here, I stuck to the metro system because 1) I didn't have to talk to anyone and 2) signs were clearly marked in English. But once I realized how simple the bus system was, my love affair with another form of public transportation began.

Shanghai's public bus system is quite comprehensive with more than 1,100 lines that run all over the city. Stops are generally located near intersections, with each stop named after the closest street intersecting the road the bus is running on. The stops are generally indicated with a black post with number signs on it. There is a number sign for each line the bus serves.

Each sign shows the route number, the bus stop name and the next stop, all in Chinese. But that doesn't mean you can't still figure it out. You just have to plan your trip in advance.

Determine Your Route
Personally, I use Google Maps to plan out my trip. You can also use Baidu Maps but it's a little trickier as it is in Chinese.

You start by simply typing in the route you want to take. You can use either landmarks or specific addresses. Then you select the public transportation option, indicated by the bus icon circled below.

Select "Get Directions" and you are given options for public transportation that will help you get from point A to B.

You will notice that numerous routes and methods are given to you. I generally try to take the quickest route, but am willing to deviate from my plan if one of the other buses comes along first. 

If you happen to know which buses pass by the stop you want to take (as indicated on the sign posts), you can also check out this Shanghai Bus Route website, which offers English route information for each specific bus.

Paying Your Fare
Board the bus through the front door and put the bus fare into a money box beside the driver or scan your metrocard. Drivers will not make change so ensure you have the exact amount before boarding the bus.

Ride Like A Regular
You will see several yellow seats on each bus. They are reserved for senior citizens, small children, the sick, disabled and pregnant women. You are welcome to sit in them, but remember to give your seat up if one of the above mentioned is left standing.

Air-conditioned buses can be identified by an snowflake symbol in front of the bus number. In the summer, you only want to get on an air conditioned bus.

Getting Off
Most of the buses announce in both Chinese and English and many have a screen displaying the stops at the front of the bus. Simply listen/look for your stop and exit from the backdoor when you arrive at your destination.

Overall, the bus system in Shanghai is fairly simple. Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone and ride the bus the next time you are meeting friends for dinner. Or when your walk to the nearest metro line suddenly feels entirely too long.


  1. This is brilliant Kristin - I've avoided the buses and walked miles or jumped on the train. It never occurred to me to use google maps.

    1. I think you'll love the bus Nancy. I'll expect a full report sometime soon =)

  2. Great article! Loved taking the bus in Shanghai, and happy to see more people appreciating it.

    I need to get those bus lines updated, it's been over a year...


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