Feature: For all some opposition, subway line in Chongqing keeps open to all-Xinhua

Feature: For all some opposition, subway line in Chongqing keeps open to all

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-04-16 20:57:15

Local villagers take a train of Chongqing Rail Transit Line 4 to sell their home-grown vegetables and fruits to the urbanites in southwest China's Chongqing, March 27, 2024. TO GO WITH "Feature: For all some opposition, subway line in Chongqing keeps open to all" (Xinhua/Wang Quanchao)

CHONGQING, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Since it was opened to traffic in June 2022, the Rail Transit Line 4 of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality has undertaken a different mission from its counterparts. Its first passengers every day are a bevy of villagers from its departure station, who come all the way to sell their home-grown vegetables to the urbanites.

At about 5:30 a.m. every morning, one hour before the first train of the line, the elevators in the Shichuan Station start operating, welcoming the regulars from Shichuan Township. Virtually every one of the local villagers carried a basket on their back, filled with various vegetables. The beads of moisture on the leaves tell exactly how the vegetables had been just picked from the farmland.

Because of such a signature scene, the subway line is also nicknamed the "pack basket line" by many Chongqing citizens.

"Before the rail transit service was launched, we could hardly sell our vegetables to the urban area because it took us to transfer buses twice or three times to get there--at least two hours in one single trip," Zhen Fanping, a 69-year-old villager from Shichuan, recalled. However, now we can directly take the subway to the destinations in the city proper, helping save more than one hour of the trip," he added.

For him and his fellow villagers, the convenience brought by the subway line is something of an advantage. Their home-grown vegetables can be sold at a higher price in urban areas. For instance, garlic is usually sold at 10 yuan (about 1.4 U.S. dollars) for every kilogram in the city proper, compared with merely 8 yuan per kilogram in Shichuan. Also, according to Zhen, their vegetables are sold out much more quickly in urban areas.

Nevertheless, the pack basket line has been under fire recently. Some netizens hold the view that these baskets occupy too much space on the already crowded subway train, which may disturb other passengers and even damage public facilities. Therefore, many have asked the subway authorities to ban passengers from carrying pack baskets and other large items during morning and evening rush hours.

Hearing these complaints, Chongqing Rail Transit Group, the line's operator, replied that the purpose of rail transit services is to put people in the first place and serve their livelihood. "As long as the items that our passengers carry conform to the laws and rail transit regulations, we won't do any interference," says the group's statement.

The city's subway authorities have long supported the diligent villagers, evidenced by multiple tailored services targeting vegetable vendors.

"The 'special' passengers appeared quite unexpectedly, so we felt flustered at first. As we gradually found that most of the vegetable growers were senior citizens in their 60s and 70s, we began to admire their diligence and resilience and made up our minds to have more patience and care for them during our operation," explained Ling Xiang, head of the Shichuan Station.

"People over 65 can take the subway train for free, and even our train broadcast is now announced in the local dialect, which is much more familiar to these elderly, instead of ordinary Mandarin on other lines," Ling said.

"We have also arranged some staff members to be stationed beside the elevators, entrances, and security checkpoints, always stay ready to reach out a helping hand for them," Ling added.

Their understanding and considerate services have also received a hurrah from the villagers.

Zhou Zhifang, 66, always carefully cleans the dust and dirt that falls from her vegetable basket before she gets off the train.

"While we take the subway, the staff is seen everywhere, poised to help us. We should not bother them more and do our own part as we can," said Zhou, adding that she and her friends have all learned the rail transit regulations word by word to better obey the rules.

There were once some similar disputes in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province. Some doubted Hangzhou Public Library's decision to be open to vagrant visitors.

The reply of the library's head then went viral online and was also frequently quoted by netizens during the recent Chongqing rail transit debate: "I don't have the right to prohibit them from entering the library to read books, but you have the right to leave."

Wang Meng, associate professor of the College of State Governance, Southwest University, said that Chongqing's pack basket line embodies the city's inclusiveness and fine governance philosophy. Its reply also shows our urban governance nowadays is shifting from serving the majority to caring for specific vulnerable groups, while our public service is changing from common and basic services to distinguished and fine ones.

"The thoughtfulness and caring underlined in our urban governance also epitomize China's rate of maturation in terms of its urban society," Wang added. "Such heartwarming practices can shore up the sense of belonging and involvement of the specific groups towards the urban area, as well as make other citizens learn about the positive changes of the city themselves."

Local villagers line up to take a train of Chongqing Rail Transit Line 4 to sell their home-grown vegetables and fruits to the urbanites in southwest China's Chongqing, March 27, 2024. (Xinhua/Wang Quanchao)