Transportation The Chinese Way

I’m not that convinced how useful it is writing about this experience but for the purpose of letting people know about what can go on here in China regarding taking buses – local or otherwise – to experiencing road jams or bottlenecks. It rarely, if ever, surprises me why people here can’t seem to fathom out how going without using a car would be much better than using one, thus making road usage and bus travel a lot more efficient, straightforward or just plain simpler. Is it because cars cause some weird status orientation, or that car owners  here can’t seem to see past the idea that cars are convenient when in fact, they are just the opposite?

Last Sunday, I decided to take a trip to one of the nearest supermarkets which are on one of the local bus routes, so a trip there and back should be relatively straightforward – or so you might think. I hopped on the next bus which is quite a regular service and regularly overcrowded – more about this later. The bus reached the main road, and it wasn’t long before it drove into a traffic pile-up which had been going on for quite a while. The driver, following the bus’s route, broke free of the congestion eventually and continued on the way with little bother.

When leaving the supermarket, I got onto the next available bus. I didn’t think there’d be any difficulty in getting back to the college campus where I’m living and working,  until the bus hit the traffic problem which was still going on. As it went at a snail’s pace, I toyed with the idea of getting off the bus and walking the rest of the way. Once the traffic did get moving, the driver followed the route but then suddenly ignored the turn-off to and up the road which goes past the campus. There was no way of getting off the bus, and there was no nearby stop.

The only way to get back to the campus – so I thought – was to get another bus back the other way. Getting off at the next stop, I waited for the next bus, but it also avoided following its usual route because the traffic problem outside the college hadn’t cleared. It dropped me at the nearest stop not far from the traffic jam. I waited for the next bus. Despite being overcrowded the driver still let on people. One woman was one too many. She prevented the front door from closing for several attempts. Although I’d seen this situation before, I was baffled why the driver allowed this. The jam continued. The bus hardly made any progress. I’d had enough so got off and walked back. A return journey that should have taken no more than an hour took three.

The following morning I asked the students if they could fill me in regarding the problem. They confirmed the clutter of cars outside the campus was why the bus was re-routed, although they couldn’t answer or give a solution to what passengers were going to do if they wanted to get to the campus.

I can give the reason for the multi-problem, and it’s an age-old one – self.  If we thought less about ourselves and more about each other or each other’s problems, these situations would be virtually non-existent. It’s worse here because, one, there just isn’t the volume of people in the western world as there is in this country, and two, road users here don’t follow or respect the road laws or rules as they should, so they  add to the chaos that hinders or inconveniences everyone else. It’s been going from bad to worse, causing much distress and perplexity.

But if there could be a pause; if there could be a reflection, how people might consider, give this problem some attention, then it might be bettered or improved. However, I pessimistically think this is a pipe dream.

David Butterworth


3 thoughts on “Transportation The Chinese Way

  1. Well done! You are right about it being selfishness at the root of the problem. That is something we find everywhere and I think it is getting worse.


  2. My “favorite” part about traffic in China (from when I lived there more than a decade ago) was how a three-lane highway easily became a five-lane highway when drivers decided to straddle the lines. If the vehicle fits, you can drive there. At least, that’s how it was in Jiangsu Province.


    1. Experienced the same problem yesterday. All that needs to be done is hire or train someone to manually direct the traffic at the problem at the intersection where it’s at. If that were to happen, the traffic would flow more smoothly. Sadly, it seems folks here are hardened or indifferent to discomfiture or inconvenience where there is no need.


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