Metro Line 11 business-class carriages spark controversy

Writer:   |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-03-15

Metro Line 11’s business-class carriages have come under the spotlight after some passengers complained about squeezing into crowded carriages during rush hours, while the business carriages often appear empty.

While some netizens believe that the carriages should be canceled due to low utilization rates, others argue that they are practical for people with special needs and that there should be different options available to meet the needs of different groups.

Commuters board an overcrowded Line 11 train. SD-Agencies

Line 11, which runs from Gangxia North in Futian District to Bitou in Bao’an District, serves as a crucial transportation option for many migrant workers commuting between central Shenzhen and the northwestern part of the city. Unfortunately, due to the long waiting times between trains and a limited number of carriages, overcrowding has become a persistent issue during rush hours. As a result, some commuters are forced to wait for multiple trains before they can squeeze onto a carriage, making their daily commute even more stressful, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported.

The line’s business carriages were launched June 30, 2017, with a fare three times that of regular carriages. The introduction of the business carriages sparked controversy at the beginning of their operation as they were often empty during peak hours, creating a stark contrast with the overcrowded regular carriages.

Since the start of this year, Shenzhen Metro’s passenger turnover has remained high, repeatedly breaking historical records, which in turn draws netizens’ attention to the controversy around Line 11’s business carriages.

A survey conducted recently by a social media platform shows that more than half of the respondents did not agree with the cancellation of business carriages. They argued that the carriages catered to the needs of people carrying large luggage, pregnant women, the elderly and other groups with special needs.

Netizens who supported the carriages’ cancellation argued from the perspective of resource utilization, saying the space of regular carriages became smaller because of the business carriages.

A netizen surnamed Yan confirmed the demand for business carriages, but she suggested that an analysis be done to determine the length of business carriages based on the vacancy rate. She also suggested that the departure intervals on Line 11 should be shortened to relieve the pressure of passenger congestion.

Like Yan, some local residents also blamed the line’s eight-minute departure interval as “the root cause of passenger congestion,” calling for measures to reduce the intervals between trains and increase the number of trains.

In response to commuters’ complaints, a new train operation scheduled was implemented on Line 11 on March 6, with the departure interval of trains running between 7:50 and 9 a.m. during morning rush hours reduced to five minutes 30 seconds and the transport capacity increased by 27.2%, the Daily report said yesterday. The departure time of the first and last trains on Line 11 has also been advanced or extended as part of the optimization measures.

In addition, Shenzhen Metro Group has opened the line’s business carriages for free during morning rush hours from 8 to 9 a.m. and evening rush hours from 6 to 7 p.m. However, some commuters have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the new measure.

Yan, who works in Shekou, said she still found it difficult to commute on Line 11 even after the opening of the business carriages. “Even if I want to take business class, I have to wait at Futian Station to get on a business carriage.”

Currently, passengers can only get on a business carriage at Gangxia North and Futian stations during morning rush hours.

In a post published on its official WeChat account, Shenzhen Metro Group acknowledged that there is indeed a “ceiling” in terms of departure intervals and train frequency because of the under-construction eastern extension of Line 11 between Futian and Gangxia North stations.