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Getting to Foshan: Guangzhou’s Free Failure

In the belly of the beast

Guangzhou recently had a couple of major developments in the world of their metro. In the past, it was a much simpler system with only 4 lines; now it is turning into a labyrinth. But we feared not, until we ventured onto the new GF line.

This line actually runs to a nearby town with temples and other cool stuff. We were going to see one of the temples. We did not realize that the day we chose to use the GF line was the day it opened, at 2PM. Also, due to the Asian games, the Guangzhou government decided to make the public transit system free. One word. Four letters. Chaos.

Before the crush

We arrived at 2:30, just after the line started operation. We were fairly surprised to see a huge crowd. I think the police were more surprised. It was clear that they had no idea this many people would show up. We could see it in their faces as they scrambled to restore order.

Time to yell

What happened was that the people filled up the platform  and then pretty much filled up the entire station. The police and metro staff decided it was not good to have so many people crushing into the train cars since nobody could get off or out. So they started to “slice off” a train’s worth of people, let them through, then move the barricade back another train load of people , and continue this process while setting up holding points to prevent too many people from being in any one area.

Pushing past the barriers

Of course, the problem with this strategy is that the Chinese people tend to ignore arbitrary boundaries. If they can physically move, they will. So the police would have to push their way into the crowd, set down a barrier line, then let people past that point through. But the people would surge forward and it took two lines of police with arms linked to stop the crowd at the next checkpoint.

Patty and her Mother in the crowd

The metro staff had people spaced every 10-20 feet though telling people who cleared a control point that they shouldn’t run.  Not much point, since another point wasn’t far away. Eventually we did get onto the metro train, but it took us well over an hour.

Say Cheese

BREAKING NEWS: Just last night I heard that the free metro system is over. Too many people wanted to take advantage of the free transit system. Now we must pay again. Oh well. But at least we can go somewhere without fear of being crushed!

Vomited from the beast

Coming next, what we did after we arrived in Forshan.


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