On December 30, 2010 at 2:00PM, the gates were pulled open to the public for the first time to five new subway lines in Beijing, China. At any given time, there are about 11 subway lines under construction in Beijing. Every year some phase of these lines are added to the system, growing into the 5th busiest system in the world. As a side note, it is basically the same story in Shanghai, with over 10 lines under construction, already the longest metro system in the world and ranked 4th in number of passengers.

A Beijing Subway station on a Saturday afternoon.

Beijing is world famous for its traffic jams. Now whenever I see a traffic jam in Detroit, I don’t complain. Beijing subways are boarded over 5 million times per day. To cover the rest of the city there are around 20,000 buses that try to squeeze  as many people on board as possible.

To me, it is interesting to see this challenge and see how they are engineering solutions. Still, it seems no matter how fast roads and subway lines are built, they are filled to capacity nearly immediately.