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Public Transportation

Today marks our first day in Tianjin. We boarded a high-speed train from Beijing to Tianjin this morning that topped out at 334 km/hr. It was rather fast!!! It took about twenty minutes to travel about ninety miles. I have been truly amazed by the public transportation since we have been here. China has around 1.3 billion people to move around and they do it well. Between planes, trains, and automobiles (buses), people can get around from destination to destination. The grand majority of people still do not own a car, but ownership has increased by over 300% in six years. In Beijing, there are now over three million cars in a city of around sixteen million people. In addition, there are nearly twenty thousand buses in Beijing and thousands more taxi cabs. For a city of its size, traffic seems to move quite well. We ran into a number of traffic jams, but considering the numbers of people moving, I do not think they were too bad. While the traffic could be quite crazy at times, we saw only two accidents in one week of extensive travelling in Beijing. Tianjin is about four million people smaller than Beijing and is the bicycle capital of China according to Dr. Li. There seems to be less cars on the road here in Tianjin. We have not been around the city too much, but this observation may be due to more bicycles on the road. For those that do not own vehicles, public transportation is the way to go. It is a cost effective and efficient alternative to owning a vehicle. Bicycles are also a viable option, if the distance to travel is not too far. For many, owning a vehicle is a status symbol and not a necessity, as it is in the United States.