IT’S fair to say that Shanghai’s Metro system is pretty comprehensive, its 14 lines (and counting) stretching out in all directions deep into the city’s suburban districts, carrying residents to and from the city center.
However, the network has its shortcomings, particularly for passengers who want to travel between two suburban areas.
Often that entails heading into town, changing line and then returning back out again, with all the associated hassles and time wasted.
But fear not frustrated travelers, for a mathematics teacher and amateur map maker has now produced his own Metro map — complete with 60 bus routes connecting stations on different lines.
“This map is based on my personal experience,” said Wang Zhewei, who teaches at Shanghai Yucai High School.
He freely admits that it is not a definitive effort and welcomes corrections and suggestions.
“The routes I marked out are not complete. The idea was to cast out a brick and attract a piece of jade.”
Wang has already received a number of corrections and suggestions and may produce an improved version of the map.
The 31-year-old public transport enthusiast has traveled all the bus routes he marked out. In fact, Wang admits, he has taken a ride on almost all the 1,300 plus bus routes in Shanghai over the past few years.
“Taking a bus ride and exploring new routes started as a hobby, but has now become a lifestyle for me,” Wang told Shanghai Daily.
Wang has been spending his spare time traveling the city Metro and bus network since 2010, armed with a transport card and a city map.
During his bus rides, Wang takes copious notes, marking down the specific location of every stop on every route for future use.
He estimates that he spends around 200 yuan (US$32) a month exploring Shanghai by public transport.
Sometimes, Wang plans routes in advance, while on other occasions he’ll just get on a bus and see where it takes him.
“After all, there’s always a way to get back,” Wang said.
The fruit of his labors was recently posted on social networking website, renren.com and has received positive feedback.
“I didn’t even think of an official name for the map,” Wang admitted.
“Some people regard it as a ‘bus patch’ for the Shanghai Metro network.”
As an example of how the map works, Jiading District residents wanting to go to Shanghai University in Baoshan District might think of taking the Metro, as both the starting point and destination are close to Metro stations.
By Metro this entails: take a Line 11 train at Jiading Xincheng to Caoyang Road and transfer to Line 3 or 4; take Line 3 or Line 4 to Zhenping Road Station and transfer to Line 7; then take Line 7 to Shanghai University Station.
The 20-stop trip — taking in Jiading, Putuo and Baoshan districts, plus a walk on the final stretch — takes around 90 minutes.
But Wang’s map shows that the Jiaguang Line bus connects Line 11’s Malu Station in Jiading to Line 7 Shanghai University Station, a total trip of 1 hour 20 minutes.
And the fastest route — at one hour — is to take a Line 11 train for five stops to Qilianshan Road Station and then change to either bus 744 or 727 to reach the university.
And even when the bus is not the quickest option, Wang urges travelers to still get onboard, chill out and enjoy the view.
“Metro rides are fast, but can sometimes be boring as there’s no view,” said Wang.
“On the bus you can always look at what’s going on outside, and that’s why I always feel relaxed when I take a bus — even when it means more time spent on the journey.
“We need to slow down our pace of life sometimes or we’ll miss all the beauty around us,” said Wang.
While Wang is currently spending his summer vacation on a post graduate course in East China Normal University, he has not neglected his hobby.
He has discovered 30 different routes with Metro and bus combinations that connect his home in Jinqiao in the Pudong New Area to the school in Changning District.
“Some routes are double or triple the time I usually need to reach home, but it makes every day a different experience for me.”
And Wang also brings his passion for public transport to the classroom, teaching a course at his school.
“This is probably the first course for high school students that give them knowledge about the city Metro system,” he said.
Entitled “An Introduction to the City Metro,” the course covers topics that include the history of Shanghai’s subway system, its route plan, trains, stations and signal system, with Wang adding his personal experience and anecdotes.
He has also set up a Shanghai Transport Society at the school, organizing trips to study public transport in suburban areas such as Nanxiang, Anting and Jiangqiao.
“The club was established to provide members with chances to see the development of Shanghai from the changes in its transport. Many members joined this club to know more about their hometown,” said Teng Qinzhi, a second year high school student and society leader.
Among Teng’s most memorable experiences with the society was a trip to Jiading Old Town, during which members were separated into groups and then told to find their own way back.
After years of exploring Shanghai’s constantly changing public transport system, Wang is generally pleased about the developments he has witnessed — especially the extension of the Metro network and the introduction of new bus models.
One thing Wang is certain of is that he’s unlikely to get bored with his hobby. For as long as Shanghai keeps developing, so will its public transport system.
“Residents’ needs are also changing according to the progressing urban planning,” says Wang.
All of which means that this teacher and map maker will be kept busy linking up Shanghai’s transport network for a considerable time to come.