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Dark clouds gather over free umbrella scheme
By Ma Yue


A FREE umbrella service for Shanghai Metro passengers is now almost a wash out as few borrowed brollies are ever returned.

Umbrellas have been available at city Metro stations since 2008 for passengers to borrow when they emerge to a sudden downpour. Under the scheme, they are supposed to return the umbrellas to any Metro station afterward.

But passengers trying to borrow a brolly these days are being told by Metro staff that none are available or that the service has stopped.

Metro operator Shanghai Shentong Group said more than 100,000 umbrellas — many donated by local enterprises — have been distributed among stations since 2008.

But over the years, a large number have made one-way trips with passengers, leaving few still available, said Shentong.

The operator said umbrellas are still available at service centers at some stations, but didn’t give details.

At the Zhongshan Park Station, a member of staff told Shanghai Daily yesterday that the station currently has no umbrellas.

The staff member said the station is allocated some 100 every year, but most are gone by April.

Other busy interchange stations such as People’s Square and Xujiahui report similar experiences.

And at other stations, such as Line 8’s Shiguang Road, passengers are told that the service has been canceled.

“I didn’t even know that this service still existed at any station,” Metro commuter Ding Jun said. “Since I’ve never seen any umbrellas at stations, I’ve never thought of borrowing one.”

The Metro operator said the last replenishment of stocks was in June, when a local enterprise donated of 20,000 umbrellas.

In a bid to ensure that umbrellas are returned, a borrower’s identity or cellphone number are taken by Metro staff. But as many people leave false details, this has had little impact.

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