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A Look Into Shanghai's Massive Subway System

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Today in Column One of the LA Times, Mitchell Landsberg along with Cao Jun examine Shanghai's subway system of five lines and 95 stations that serve 2 million people a day (with six lines scheduled to open in a couple of years). Juxtaposing it to Los Angeles with that fact that construction in Shanghai began four years after LA's Red Line, it makes our city look a bureaucratic embarrassment hung up in NIMBYism and funding issues:

At the risk of only slight oversimplification, the [Shanghai] system works like this: Planners draw subway lines on a map. Party officials approve them. Construction begins. If anything is in the way, it is moved. If they need to, Chinese planners "just move 10,000 people out of the way," said Lee Schipper, a transport planner who has worked with several Chinese cities in his role as director of research for EMBARQ, a Washington-based transportation think tank. "They don't have hearings."

The enjoyable and well-written article sounds like a fantasy for transportation planners and advocates alike and a homeowner's worst nightmare. But in China where the government will openly ban opposition, how much of a fantasy is it?

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In an e-mail conversation with LAist's sister site in China, Shanghaiist, contributing writer Micah Sittig, gave some local perspective.