Time Out walk you through the basics of using the city's ubiquitous public transportation system to get around Shanghai.
What does a Public Transportation Card do?
A Shanghai Public Transportation Card (SPTC), aka jiaotong ka, allows you to use the city's public
transportation - including subways, buses, ferries and airport maglev trains - without the hassle of buying single tickets. The fare, which depends on the distance of your journey, will be deducted from the money you put onto your card. Fares are usually the same as
an individual ticket, but if you spend more than 70RMB on the metro in a
month you will get a 10 per cent discount on your trips for the rest of that
You can also use the card to pay for a taxi - but be sure to tell the driver before they flip the meter - parking lots, petrol
stations, tolls and even some auto repair stores.
How to get one
You can get a Public Transportation Card at any of the
service booths that appear in every metro station, or at a number of banks and convenience
stores – you’ll be able to tell which
ones offer the service because they will display the SPTC lightning-bolt style
logo (seen prominently on the card) in their window.
The stations often have English-speaking staff, but bringing
along a Mandarin-speaking friend might be a good idea. In any case, all you have to do is hand over
some money – 20RMB as a refundable deposit and up to 1,000RMB for credit to put
onto the card. Your card will then be handed back with the credit on it.
How to top up your card
Your credit can go down surprisingly quickly if
you’re commuting often. Luckily, you're allowed to go into negative
credit one time.
It’s a good idea to make sure you always have sufficient credit on your card though. You will be able to see how much you have left on the screen every time you swipe it to pass through the gate in a metro station.
Topping up at a metro station is easy. Just go to a service
booth, hand over your card and some money, and they will top it up for you –
you won’t normally need to speak any Mandarin to do this. It’s a similar
process at the many shops and banks that can recharge cards for you.
You might find it more convenient to use one of the top-up
machines found in metro stations around the city. At these machines you can only top up in multiples of 50RMB, but
they are easy to use – simply insert your card, follow the on-screen
instructions (you can change the language to English) and insert your bank notes.