For a city whose population has almost doubled in the past 20 years, Shanghai’s transportation system is remarkably up to date. Shanghai boasts one of the most comprehensive and fastest growing metro systems in the world, and has no plans on slowing down. Although the first line was only opened in 1995, the system already has 13 lines and 250 stations, and with almost 500km of total tracks, it is the third longest system in the world.
The rapid urbanization of the past decade has forced cities around China to make investments in transportation infrastructure a priority. Last year, China announced the planned construction of 25 new metro projects totaling 800 billion yuan (US$127 billion).
In keeping with the city of Shanghai’s overall decentralization scheme aimed at alleviating pressure on the already ultra-dense urban core, the new extensions will mostly service the existing and planned suburban developments. By 2020, the system will be comprised of 22 lines totaling over 850km. Most of the new construction will take place on the outskirts of the city, connecting peri-urban dwellers to the centre of the city.
The city has implemented a number of restrictions on car use in the city in order to alleviate traffic congestion and promote public transportation. While the cost of a car may be enough to deter some, the city also has regulations such as disallowing those without a Shanghainese license plate to travel on major roads during peak times and installing tolls on well-used roads. These measures have helped make Shanghai’s metro system one of the busiest in the world, with daily ridership often over 6 million people.
While a lengthy beaurocratic process involving voting, public opinion hearings and environmental impact reports may delay other cities progress, the government in China owns all land and has the authority to displace or relocate existing facilities to make way for their expansions.
What can other cities learn from Shanghai’s prioritization of transportation? How do metro systems influence urban growth?
Credits: Data and photo linked to source.