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July 8, 2012

New China Subway to Sell VIP Seats at Double Fare

By Stan Abrams  

From China Daily, July 6
Shenzhen’s new subway line 11 will offer VIP tickets to passengers that guarantees a seat for double the normal price, Southern Metropolis Daily reported Friday. “We are trying to make public transportation meet a higher level of service,” said Zhao Penglin, deputy secretary general of Zhenzhen municipal government, at the Shenzhen-Hongkong Subway Economic Circle Summit on July 5. 

Apparently “higher level of service” is code language for making rich people more comfortable. That’s nice. It’s hard to believe that city officials really thought this was going to go over well with the general public. I thought perhaps that the China Daily coverage of the story would go to the central issue, China’s income gap, but that was not the case:
But some passengers remain skeptical about the VIP service.
“I will consider the VIP ticket if it is not expensive,” said a Shenzhen woman surnamed Huang, “It’s crowded in rush hour, making it difficult to stand without a seat from the Laojie station to the airport for 40 to 50 minutes, and I am willing to pay more for the ticket for comfort.”
A worker surnamed Lin said, “I go to work by underground on weekdays, and it’s a little expensive to spend double the price on a VIP ticket.”
Right. The only issue here is whether the price hike is reasonable. My goodness.

At least the Wall Street Journal coverage dealt with reality. While they couldn’t get anyone in authority on record, at least they were able to discuss what the public really cared about (via the lazy journalist’s best friend, Sina weibo). The responses were pretty much as you’d expect, although I did enjoy this one:
“If the Beijing Metro can offer a VIP carriage seat for only 4 yuan, they would have to turn all the subway train’s carriages into VIP areas meet the demand, ” said one Beijing Weibo user.
About The Author - Stan Abrams is a Beijing-based IP/IT lawyer and law professor with an M.A. from Johns Hopkins in International Relations, a J.D. from Boston College Law School, a B.A. from Pomona College, and writes at China Hearsay.  (EconMatters author archive here)

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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