Monday, October 15, 2007

The Sardine Effect

The Chinese should really be in the Guinness Book of World Records for the numbers of people who manage to squish their way onto buses everyday. India is probably their closest rival.

I thought I had already experienced being packed in like sardines. But today was definitely it.

I decided to take a bus route I recently discovered, bus 408 that takes me straight to my gym instead of my having to walk another 10 minutes.

But when the bus arrived, it was already packed and as we tried to cram on, others wouldn't or couldn't budge. The driver told us to go to the back and I managed to squeeze in with the door closing right behind me.

Even though I was holding onto a pole, I didn't really have to -- we kept each other in place by the number of passengers on the bus.

People grumbled about being squished together, but we all knew it was temporary. What was interesting was that everyone tried to help each other out in this tight space.

"Xia ma?" or "Are you getting off?" is a common question on buses and subways. When someone needed to get off, we tried to adjust our bodies so that the person could make his or her way to the door. When they successfully extricated themselves from the vehicle, people would holler to the driver to close the back door so we could continue our journey.

I was pleased to see everyone as civil as possible in this crazy but daily situation. And that made my commute less stressful.

Now if only the municipal transportation department could see we clearly need more buses on the roads so that people don't have to cram onto them. But then again when they're paying 1 RMB (US$0.13) or less for the ride, what do you expect?

2 comments:

ks said...

beijing is a capital city directly under the central government it should be more privilaged. with such properity in china a few more buses should be no problem, in japan years ago there is a professional 'pusher' in subway stations to squeeze riders into the train.

ks said...

beijing is a capital city directly under the central government it should be more privilaged. with such properity in china a few more buses should be no problem, in japan years ago there is a professional 'pusher' in subway stations to squeeze riders into the train.