While in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province and only 1.5 hours from Beijing by high-speed rail, I ran across their Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. I didn’t even realize that Jinan had BRT (but let’s be honest, I didn’t even know or think about going to Jinan before this trip), and wanted to try it out. There are 46 BRT stations in Jinan (you can take a look at a map of the stations here) and it only costs 1 yuan (about 16 cents) to ride. It has its own dedicated lane, which I quickly found out in Jinan is necessary because there are 1-way roads, something I haven’t experienced very frequently in China at all, which usually has traffic going both ways regardless. Unfortunately, the BRT didn’t happen to be going my way when I wanted to take it. Instead, I ended up taking a regular bus that felt like a microwave inside, due to lack of air-conditioning and 97 degree F temperatures that day. Apparently, for air-conditioned buses, you have to pay 1 RMB extra and look for the letter ‘k’ (for kong tiao, the Chinese word for air conditioning).
A quick search of the Chinese weibo community’s response to Jinan’s BRT revealed that apparently it is a “model” BRT for other cities in China. So much so, that Taiyuan in Shanxi Province has even adopted the same BRT transit cards as Jinan! (But too bad the Taiyuan customers and Weibo crowd are poking fun at this coincidence).