Shanghai Metro Commuters Struggle with QR Codes, Long Lines Ensue

By Bridget O'Donnell, January 23, 2018

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Over the weekend, Shanghai residents were thrilled to finally be able to use their smartphones as metro tickets after the city's metro operator debuted turnstiles with fancy schmancy QR code technology. 

However, in its first few days the grand launch of the new turnstiles has already marred by technical hiccups, which have in turn led to insanely long lines at some stations.

Shine reports that a couple of stations have experienced heavy congestion as commuters try out the new technology. Just two days after the scanners were unveiled, massive queues were spotted at Pengpug Xincun Station on Line 1 on Monday morning during the peak morning rush hour period. The line reportedly stretched all the way out of the station and up to the pedestrian bridge.

“I lined up for more than 10 minutes,” one exasperated commuter at the station told Shine. “I ended up using my transport card as I was running late for work... I don’t have that much time to queue up. It was exhausting just to get in to the station.”

Others took to Weibo to vent their frustrations with the new system.

"Not only did [the new system] not improve efficiency, but it also lead to congestion," wrote one.

"The Shanghai Metro is like chunyun [the Spring Festival travel rush] right now," joked another. "Feels like a bunch of people are blocked by scanning the codes."

"This is the progress made by science and technology?" one user asked. Attached with the post was a picture of a long queue.

Scan code Metro

Bigger stations like People’s Square and Zhongshan Park have reportedly had smoother passenger flows, though a volunteer at the former told Shine that quite a few commuters were having trouble getting the smartphone app to work. Some had forgotten to turn their bluetooth on, while others were holding their phones too close to the machines.

As of Monday morning at 10am, 1.41 million people had downloaded the “Metro daduhui” app (which currently only remains usable for those who hold a Chinese ID card — sorry laowai!). As many as 580,000 people had used the app by 8pm on Monday.

Still, that figure is quite low. The Shanghai Metro Group estimates the system is used by 11 million commuters each day.

[Images via Weibo]

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