After years of waiting for the subway to come to our neighborhood of Wangjing, (motto: Good things come to those who wait while enjoying kimchi!) Line 14 finally opened this week. Sure, there is still work being done on many of the exits and several stops remain closed, but that doesn’t bother me one bit since now I can ride the train from my place to the neighborhood of best Beijing buddies without even switching lines.
When we descended the steep escalators at the station outside Indigo Mall, we were reminded that the subway system, even the new lines, like most of Beijing, are not stroller friendly. Nor friendly to wheel chairs or people with any kind of walking issues for that matter. Steps leading up to the station entrance so that you can go down into the subway is still the norm. Once inside, the system for purchasing tickets in English was simple enough, though if we didn’t know the name of the station we were going too, it would have been challenging.
After passing through “security” we headed down the escalators again to the brand spanking new platform. Minutes later, a sparkling new “wide body” train arrived. It still has that new subway car smell – no doubt slightly toxic – with plenty of available seating for weary travelers. My eyes were immediately drawn to the “family friendly” advertising of a young woman with pursed red lips wearing only a bra and panties. I can’t help but feel the ad is out of place.
The train runs smoothly and the extra space will no doubt be welcome when the crowds finally catch on. One unfortunate note is that the new subway toilets on the platform already smell like those of older lines and look grungy. It seems some things in Beijing will never change.
Photo: Michael Wester