Chinese Argue Full-Price Standing Room Only Train Tickets Not Fair

Elderly Chinese man holding 100 RMB bill preparing to purchase a train ticket.

Elderly Chinese man holding 100 RMB bill preparing to purchase a train ticket.

Chinese New Year’s, aka Spring Festival, is approaching and many Chinese people are beginning to make arrangements for traveling across the country to return home to spend the most important holiday of the year with their families…

From Sina Weibo:

@思想聚焦: An Appeal for Seat-Less Train Tickets Be Changed to Half Price — China Railways sells an enormous amount of seat-less tickets [standing-room only tickets] every year, and over all this time, seat-less train tickets remain full-price. Seat-less travelers are mostly our migrant working brothers. They, for reasons such as financial circumstance and lack of knowledge, are unable to get tickets with seats of their own. According to the laws of market value, they are unable to enjoy the service that corresponds with their train ticket price, and therefore seat-less train tickets being full price is unreasonable. I recommend that seat-less tickets be made half price! Those friends who support me, pass [reshare/forward] this on! [话筒]

A train ticket in China from Hangzhou to Xi'an, for standing room only, no seat.
A train ticket in China for standing room only, no seat.

At time of translation, this microblog post has been upvoted nearly 100k times, forwarded/reshared over 250k times, and has nearly 30k comments…

Comments from Sina Weibo:


Every time the year comes to an end, there is this kind of brainless microblog post posted up. And this one even drags in “market value”. Can you people have even a bit of basic economic common sense? The microblog poster’s logic is: Migrant workers have a hard time buying tickets, seat-less tickets are miserable, seatless tickets should be half price. First of all, the domestic train ticket prices are already very low as a result of government subsidies. If you don’t believe me, go see other countries. Actually, the reason it is difficult for migrant workers to buy tickets is because of problems with ticket purchasing channels. What use is there of not calling for improvements to [purchasing] channels and instead dragging in this about half price? It can only be said, everything in this society is lacking, except this kind of common sense.


I suggest getting rid of seat-less train tickets altogether.


Seat-less tickets being full price is indeed unreasonable. After all, you’ve spent the same amount of money but aren’t able to get the same level of service. However, if we were to implement half-price seat-less tickets, it will also cause waste when there is low passenger volume. Tell me, is it not possible to design a kind of system, that at the time of purchasing tickets, if there are still empty seats, there are no half-price tickets? So that when the seats are full, only then will there be half-price ticket service? Wouldn’t this work?


Sometimes I feel truly sad for those elderly people, who have to go out on their own [to work away from their family/hometowns], when they’re buying tickets. Unable to speak accurate putonghua [Mandarin Chinese], their ears bad, and if they run into an impatient ticket-seller, they are so wronged, having waited in such long lines, and ultimately not successfully getting a ticket. I think they should also set up a special window for elderly 60 years old and above, and then have the train station assign several employees to give assistance to the elderly buying tickets. That way, the great New China can be even more warm and caring.


Lower prices for seat-less tickets, and number of tickets should also be limited!


I remember the explanation given by the Ministry of Railways last year was that because they are standing on the floor [space] of the hard seat train cars, that’s why it has to be hard seat prices. In response to this, I can only [say] fuck the Ministry of Railways < href="" target="_blank">MLGB.


Lower prices for seat-less tickets, and number of tickets should also be limited! Don’t know when it will be possible to attract serious attention to this issue.


If it is made half-price, who knows, maybe there will be a lot of people who in order to save money will go buy seat-less tickets. This isn’t only a problem about whether or not one has money…


At the same time, may I ask if there can also be half-price on public transportation [buses, subways] when there are no more seats?

Chinese seat-less or standing-room only train ticket-holders passengers huddling in the aisles and sitting on seat backs.
Chinese seat-less or standing-room only train ticket-holders huddling in the aisles and sitting on seat backs.


Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.


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