Xiamen's "sky subway" allows buses to run like clock-work

Updated: 26 Mar 2009
Share this news?...Click box   Bookmark and Share wox mobile
Read more on Li Kailin   Xiamen model     

Xiamen's BRT


For visitors to Xiamen, taking the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) is a must!

The public BRT is as punctual and speedy as the subway. On average bus will pass a bus stop every three minutes while it takes only two minutes for a bus to run from one stop to another in downtown areas.

It is as modern as light rail. Roads, vehicles and stations involved in these bus services have seen comprehensive landscape design and complete, intelligent management applied.

Ticket prices are cheaper than ordinary public buses, with prices starting at 0.3 yuan (around 0.04 USD).

In urban areas, all buses run on bus-only elevated roads at a speed of 60 kilometers per hour. The general public feels at ease while riding a bus running on the "air corridor." Local residents fondly refer to the BRT as "the special line for ordinary people!"

Thanks to scientific development-based construction concepts and people-oriented management models, public buses are the first choice journeys for the local residents. Within half a year since the launch of the BRT, the daily volume of bus passengers in Xiamen has increased by 200,000, resulting in faster traffic speed and lower pollution for the entire city.

Abolishing construction of the subway system: opting for a "five lows" plan and aiming for "five advanced" goals.


On the morning of March 24, taking the fast and convenient escalator, the reporters arrived at the BRT bus stop, 9 meters above ground.

The starting station of BRT Line One, located in the neighborhood of Gulangyu Ferry, is somewhat similar to the Bund in Shanghai, and has a dense passenger flow.

At 8:30 am, a 12-meter-long blue BRT special bus arrived at the station.

The moment the automatic doors in front of the passenger queues opened silently, the electronic display panel above the doors displayed the departure time for the next two buses.

The driver told reporters that the BRT bus is custom-made by King Long Buses and is equipped with an advanced compulsory speed restriction device, which limits the bus to a maximum speed of 60 kilometers per hour and operates the whole journey at a uniform speed.

The bus stops parallel with the platform, with no more than five centimeters of error. The bus is equipped with five surveillance cameras and a black box in the front that records all operating data.

With the "five advanced" goals of new type, speediness, modernity, intelligence and aesthetics of today's BRT, reporters could not help but explore the reasons why Xiamen selected "low energy consumption, low pollution, low investment, low land occupancy and low bus fare" as features of the BRT.

To lessen the heavy traffic burden, Xiamen initially had considered subway or light rail, because Xiamen, as a central city at the western coast of the Strait, should have far-reaching consideration for its urban construction.

However, in view of its annual 22 billion yuan fiscal revenue, the Xiamen Municipal Party Committee and the Xiamen Municipal Government made repeated calculations: for the construction of every 1 kilometer of subway the investment is 500-600 million yuan and for light rail its 150-200 million yuan.

Since Xiamen's geological structure is complicated, the construction of a subway features high difficulty, a long construction period, large investment, insufficient passenger volume and high operating costs. A light rail has similar drawbacks.

Following repeated investigation and study, BRT became the final choice because of its high passenger transit capacity, fast speed, convenience, punctuality, comfort, safety, low energy consumption and low pollution.

The BRT's construction and operating costs are only one-tenth the costs for track transport. It is more important for a city with a population of less than three million that the BRT is fully able to address tough issues concerning the general public's journeys for the present time and even in the considerably long term.

To solve traffic conflicts between public buses and non-public vehicles, Xiamen has innovated and adopted a completely elevated road in urban areas so that the public buses enjoy the right to run in a totally closed road without traffic lights, ensuring speed, punctuality and safety.

To balance the demand for the time being and for future development, the design of the BRT's roads and bus stops have adopted the standards used in upgraded light rails, leaving room for future transformation. This has increased the budget accordingly by 200 million yuan. Residents in Xiamen say, "It is worthwhile!"

BRT has changed Xiamen: public transportation has become people's first choice for journeys and has promoted the integration of urban and rural areas

New life, new concepts! Prioritizing the public transport system, what changes has it brought to Xiamen?

No longer driving cars and taking company buses, instead taking public transportation has become a reality in Xiamen. Qian Fang, a graduate from Fuzhou University, works at a finance company in Xiamen. The BRT has allowed her to leave her car in her parking spot, her commuting time has been more than halved, and a round trip only costs her one yuan.

When the BRT was launched, to help more residents get to know the system, the municipal government gave out 40,000 free tickets to residents throughout the city and 10,000 50-yuan Xiamen E-Tong cards to residents along BRT lines.

Also, to makes things easier for residents, the bus companies opened 18 high-speed short-haul connecting bus lines to the BRT stops that transport BRT passengers to their communities, work places and other bus stops along BRT lines.

During the first half year of operation, the number of passengers increased from 40,000 per day to the present figure of nearly 180,000 per day, and the social benefits have begun to take effect.

Compared with cars, the amount of road space occupied by 100 BRT passengers is nearly nine times lower, saving five times the amount of fuel and lowering harmful emissions by as much as 15 times.

BRT has changed the distances of time and space in Xiamen, half-hour economic circles of residing in the city and going to work outside the city are beginning to form. The radius of the city has been expanded, and the integration process of urban and rural areas will also be advanced.

SOURCE: People's Daily Online

Editorial Message 

This site contains materials from other clearly stated media sources for the purpose of discussion stimulation and content enrichment among our members only. does not necessarily endorse their views or the accuracy of their content. For copyright infringement issues please contact editor@whatsonxiamen

Share this news?...Click box   Bookmark and Share
Comments Area ( Total Comments: 3 )
daveartistic Commented on 03 Apr 2009
I agree to the further development as well as study but take
note whoever remarks or comments it is always for the
goodness of the society as well as those who are outside
Xiamen.Try to listen to both side whether good or bad and
learn if it right or wrong. Let us not forget
again ......................"how will you able to access the
people of disabilities?" The residence of Xiamen who
are "not disable" would surely agree but and how about the
old people who cannot handle walking climbing the stairs for
such a harsh climb? How can a non-Chinese read the streets
signs? Or how would they know that it will stop at said
station.Your future not only lies in the residence of Xiamen
but again your trying to market these city as one of the
trading city who of course will definitely cater to foreign
who cannot understand Chinese wordings. Imagine a trading
partner from a far land who came recently to the city. All
words are in pin ying not interpreted as right English
wordings for example Zhong San lu? Who don't have any idea
what was that then when asked the wordings to a BRT station
staff not one replies back.Think of those people too.
choilee Commented on 01 Apr 2009
Having lived in some of the more advanced economies and seen some of those badly organized government projects, I totally salute the BRT project in Xiamen.
The far-sighted plan that those elevated roads are readily convertible to light-rails when the population reaches certain critical mass is commendable. This is what I call good planning (very well organized 'ouncil workers').
I take my hat off for these people and the news reporter whom you puke......
Be nice!
Give credit to those who really deserve it!
Bronzo Commented on 26 Mar 2009
I wanna puke.
That's the typical chinese news' article. 100% good news.