Commuting in Shanghai has been a lot easier than I anticipated. Before coming here the idea of my direction-less self navigating through such a big and busy city was unthinkable, but the transit system is incredible. I mainly get around using the metro but I’ve also used the buses and both will easily get you where you want to go. There’s plenty of signage pointing you in the right direction and everything is in both Chinese and English–on the metro they’ll even announce what stop you’re approaching and which side to get out on in English. I’ve gotten mixed up on a few New York City subways but the metro has always been straightforward enough that I haven’t gotten lost yet. You can also use Apple Maps for directions as well as which subway lines to take which makes the whole process even easier. However, I’ve also realized that I’ve gotten to the point that even if my phone died and I didn’t know beforehand which lines I was going to take, that I wouldn’t be worried about finding my way back.
Moreover, the metro and buses are always very clean. I can’t say with certainty how frequently the buses come, but if you miss your metro you don’t have to worry because there’ll usually be another within the next three to five minutes. That’s another reason I don’t worry about getting lost, because if you get on going the wrong way you can just get off, walk to the other side of the platform, and get on the metro going the other way. Each subway ride is also usually about three yuan which is less than fifty cents in the US. With all the money I save on getting around, I rationalize it to myself that it’s okay to play the claw machines in all of the subway stations—I’ve been trying to win a Detective Pikachu for what feels like forever now.
The difference between getting around Pittsburgh and here is that I use the metro more than the bus, whereas at Pitt I almost only use the bus or rideshare. Both are really convenient here, but I got more used to taking the subway early on. China has their own ridesharing/taxi calling app called Didi which we’ll use to call cabs if we’re out past when the metro or buses stop running around 10:30-11:00 PM. Besides knowing when public transportation here closes, the only thing you have to be mindful of is listening to the beeps that indicate the doors of the metro are closing because if those doors are closing, they are CLOSING, and we’ve had some close calls.
Overall, I love the transit system here. My commute to work consists of walking to the metro station, taking line four for five stops, transferring to line seven and riding that another two stops, and a short walk down the street past some cute cafes. It all takes about 45 minutes and I love how it makes me feel like a local headed to work.