The 18-meter long public buses in Shanghai are now available for rent.
Ten such buses, dubbed “Big Dragon Bus,” ply on route No. 85 in Pudong. It has three doors and can hold around 200 passengers. A regular bus is usually 10 to 12 meters long with two doors and room for just 100.
The bus operator, Pudong Yanggao Bus Co, said it would first ensure that the operation of No. 85 is not affected and then rent out the bus not in use for commercial activity.
The rent charges will depend on the usage time and mileage. And for that customers will first have to negotiate with the bus company on the tour route.
A driver and two bus employees will be assigned on the trip which will be monitored through GPS. The unique service got its first order last week.
About 20 people rented out the big bus for a 6.5-hour tour on a 80-kilometer journey past the Waibaidu Bridge, the Bund, People’s Square, Shanghai Stadium and Jing’an Temple.
They ended up paying 2,600 yuan (US$424.8).
Another batch paid 3,000 yuan for a half-day tour that covered Xujiahui, the former World Expo site and Lujiazui, the company said.
The diesel-engine bus was bought for 2 million yuan (US$326,626) from Anhui Province. It has been in service since 2008. The usual operating lifespan of these buses is around 15 years.
For the locals, the “Big Dragon Bus” brings back memories of the 14-meter long public buses that operated in Shanghai more than a decade ago. They were also referred to as “accordion bus.” It comprised of two rigid sections linked by a pivoting joint making it look like an accordion, and allowed for a longer length and hence served a higher passenger capacity. They were gradually phased out because of pollution concerns.
The Pudong Yanggao Bus Co said the 18-meter bus had a better performance rate than its predecessor. On the current No. 85 route that runs from Lujiazui to Changdao Road in Pudong. Passengers get in from the front and back doors and get off from the middle door.
The giant bus lowered its chassis to 36cm from the floor for the convenience of the elderly and the disabled. Footboards for wheel chairs are equipped at the center door.