The last ride home

Updated: 2012-02-10 10:12

By Shi Yingying (China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0
SHANGHAI - As many in the city are getting ready for bed, Tan Yaochen puts the engine into gear and drives Bus 316 to Hongqiao airport to start his shift on this cold and rainy winter night.

His shift lasts until 6 am.

Keeping him company over that seven and a half hours are the few passengers who want a ride from the airport to the central Bund area for 2 yuan (30 cents).

"Even the number of them has dropped sharply in recent years and the night bus has lost at least half of its riders compared with the 1980s," Tan said.

The 52-year-old, who has spent most of his past 20 years driving night buses in Shanghai, can deal with the cold, loneliness and the almost negligible night shift differential. What's hard for him is the fact that "I'm running out of passengers day by day".

"The midnight bus driver is becoming an out-dated occupation with the expansion of modern transportation systems and the disappearance of late riders in Shanghai," said Tan, pointing to his empty bus.

"For example, at one of my terminals, the Hongqiao Transport Hub, where passengers arrive in Shanghai either by high speed train or plane, it only takes them seconds to figure out that metro is the first preference - thanks to the hub's seamless design of putting the high speed train station and metro station together. As for those who could afford flight tickets, they wouldn't choose bus."

The last ride home

Bus driver Tan Yaochen from Shanghai has been on night shift for decades. Gao Erqiang / China Daily 

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page