en-fr  In China, Riders Relocate Bus Stops for Their Convenience, Wreaking Havoc on Routes
In China, Riders Relocate Bus Stops for Their Convenience, Wreaking Havoc on Routes.

Dust-Up over Route 84.

By Tei-Ping Chen, The Wall Street Journal - October 13, 2014.

XIAOZUO, China—Not much happens in this dusty Chinese village, population 3,000.

Then, on July 30, residents discovered that the bus stand for Route 84 on the edge of their village in central Henan province had mysteriously moved 200 meters, or 656 feet, west, where it sat reposing in a batch of freshly poured concrete.

Further down the sun-beaten stretch of road, there was a gaping hole in the ground where the old bus stop—a pole bearing a metal placard stamped with route names—used to be.

With that, Xiaozuo became the latest hamlet to fall prey to a particularly Chinese menace: the moving bus stop.

Across the world’s second-largest economy, citizens are playing footsie with bus stands, wreaking havoc with transport routes and pitting neighbors against one another as they angle for the special rewards and prestige that can come with having a bus stop close at hand.

“It’s really difficult to keep villagers from moving the bus stop,” said one Route 84 bus driver on a recent day as he canvassed his route, fields of green-stalked corn flashing by. “We can’t watch them day and night. If they want to move the bus stop, we have no way to stop them.” 0fficials at Chinese bus companies — there are hundreds of such companies in China—say some signpost pilferers want buses to empty out closer to their businesses so they can get more foot traffic. Other people object to walking too far for a lift—and take matters into their own hands.

While there are no figures on how often the phenomenon occurs nationwide, the Henan bus company that manages Route 84 says that in recent years it has been getting complaints of stop-shuffling in its service area several times a year. According to the company, there are no specific rules against moving a bus stop.

But changes don’t always last.

Other areas are also grappling with the problem. In Shandong province, four elderly residents were recently caught adjusting a sign so that buses would stop outside their residential compound. In Anhui province, residents seethed after mischief-makers from another apartment block moved the bus stop 400 meters closer to their own entrance.

And when a new bus route was launched in Zhejiang province last year, excited residents rearranged so many stops to suit their convenience that the bus company implored residents via state media to curb their behavior.

There have been other grass-roots transportation initiatives. In 2011, authorities launched a national campaign to crack down on unauthorized tollbooths set up by local governments or enterprising villagers to fleece drivers.

Tinkering with bus routes is particularly sensitive. Despite all of China’s big investments in high-speed rail and subway lines, buses remain the main way many of its 1.4 billion people, especially in the countryside, get around.

The dust-up over Route 84 in Xiaozuo made national headlines, as the local report went viral in China, and prompted commentary by the Communist Youth Daily newspaper that strictly inveighed against such bus stop misadventures.

“This kind of behavior hinders the normal operation of public transport, and makes some passengers unable to find the bus stop and be unable to ride the bus,” the paper wrote. “It must receive our condemnation.” Inquiries by The Wall Street Journal found that it was a trio of residents from the neighboring village of Gedang that got things rolling in Xiaozuo.

Standing outside his modest storefront selling chips and drinks, Gedang resident Bao Linhe gestured energetically at the relocated bus stand, which he said he had hoisted down the street with the help of two others.

He and others were simply fed up with walking the additional distance to catch the bus, he said, which used to pick up passengers at a point on the border between both villages.

Xiaozuo already has two bus stops, he explained. Moving one of the stops deeper into Gedang made more sense given that it was named “Gedang Stop” in the first place, he said.

While some indignant Gedang residents say they weren’t consulted, Mr. Bao says he had their best interests at heart.

“We did it in broad daylight, around 11 a.m. Many people saw us do it...They all agreed,” he said.

“You see those elderly people?” he added, pointing to an elderly woman in magenta who had sidled up to hear the discussion. “Now they don’t need to walk all the way to the village entrance to ride the bus,” he said. The woman nodded her head in agreement.

But inconvenienced riders—including those who live closer to Xiaozuo—aren’t amused.

“If everyone does things this way, moving bus stops around, won’t everything just be in a big muddle?” said one Gedang resident surnamed Jin, who declined to give her first name.
For weeks, the bus operator didn’t replace the original stand. Its drivers doggedly continued to use the old location, even in the absence of any signage. But that created its own confusion.

On a hot day, as the sound of cicadas hummed thickly in the trees, a trio of would-be passengers, including a mother and her young son who weren’t from around those parts, waited at the newly-christened bus stop.

Eventually, the bus arrived. But the vehicle refused to slow, despite frantic signaling from the group. They raced after the bus, only to trail off disgustedly in the heat when it was plain the driver wouldn’t stop.

“People from outside the village are often tricked by the new stop,” said Fang Qiongyan, 17, a local resident.
After all, she said, “that fake bus stop is really very decent-looking. Many people think it’s real.” The original stop has been replaced, but the moved one still stands.

Yang Jie,Kersten Zhang and Li Jie contributed to this article.
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Dust-Up over Route 84.
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By Tei-Ping Chen, The Wall Street Journal - October 13, 2014.
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“We can’t watch them day and night.
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But changes don’t always last.
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Other areas are also grappling with the problem.
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There have been other grass-roots transportation initiatives.
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Tinkering with bus routes is particularly sensitive.
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Xiaozuo already has two bus stops, he explained.
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“We did it in broad daylight, around 11 a.m.
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Many people saw us do it...They all agreed,” he said.
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The woman nodded her head in agreement.
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For weeks, the bus operator didn’t replace the original stand.
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But that created its own confusion.
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Eventually, the bus arrived.
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Yang Jie,Kersten Zhang and Li Jie contributed to this article.
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In China, Riders Relocate Bus Stops for Their Convenience, Wreaking Havoc on Routes.

Dust-Up over Route 84.

By Tei-Ping Chen, The Wall Street Journal - October 13, 2014.

XIAOZUO, China—Not much happens in this dusty Chinese village, population 3,000.

Then, on July 30, residents discovered that the bus stand for Route 84 on the edge of their village in central Henan province had mysteriously moved 200 meters, or 656 feet, west, where it sat reposing in a batch of freshly poured concrete.

Further down the sun-beaten stretch of road, there was a gaping hole in the ground where the old bus stop—a pole bearing a metal placard stamped with route names—used to be.

With that, Xiaozuo became the latest hamlet to fall prey to a particularly Chinese menace: the moving bus stop.

Across the world’s second-largest economy, citizens are playing footsie with bus stands, wreaking havoc with transport routes and pitting neighbors against one another as they angle for the special rewards and prestige that can come with having a bus stop close at hand.

“It’s really difficult to keep villagers from moving the bus stop,” said one Route 84 bus driver on a recent day as he canvassed his route, fields of green-stalked corn flashing by. “We can’t watch them day and night. If they want to move the bus stop, we have no way to stop them.”

0fficials at Chinese bus companies — there are hundreds of such
companies in China—say some signpost pilferers want buses to empty out closer to their businesses so they can get more foot traffic. Other people object to walking too far for a lift—and take matters into their own hands.

While there are no figures on how often the phenomenon occurs nationwide, the Henan bus company that manages Route 84 says that in recent years it has been getting complaints of stop-shuffling in its service area several times a year. According to the company, there are no specific rules against moving a bus stop.

But changes don’t always last.

Other areas are also grappling with the problem. In Shandong province, four elderly residents were recently caught adjusting a sign so that buses would stop outside their residential compound. In Anhui province, residents seethed after mischief-makers from another apartment block moved the bus stop 400 meters closer to their own entrance.

And when a new bus route was launched in Zhejiang province last year, excited residents rearranged so many stops to suit their convenience that the bus company implored residents via state media to curb their behavior.

There have been other grass-roots transportation initiatives. In 2011, authorities launched a national campaign to crack down on unauthorized tollbooths set up by local governments or enterprising villagers to fleece drivers.

Tinkering with bus routes is particularly sensitive. Despite all of China’s big investments in high-speed rail and subway lines, buses remain the main way many of its 1.4 billion people, especially in the countryside, get around.

The dust-up over Route 84 in Xiaozuo made national headlines, as the local report went viral in China, and prompted commentary by the Communist Youth Daily newspaper that strictly inveighed against such bus stop misadventures.

“This kind of behavior hinders the normal operation of public transport, and makes some passengers unable to find the bus stop and be unable to ride the bus,” the paper wrote. “It must receive our condemnation.”

Inquiries by The Wall Street Journal found that it was a trio of residents from the neighboring village of Gedang that got things rolling in Xiaozuo.

Standing outside his modest storefront selling chips and drinks, Gedang resident Bao Linhe gestured energetically at the relocated bus stand, which he said he had hoisted down the street with the help of two others.

He and others were simply fed up with walking the additional distance to catch the bus, he said, which used to pick up passengers at a point on the border between both villages.

Xiaozuo already has two bus stops, he explained. Moving one of the stops deeper into Gedang made more sense given that it was named “Gedang Stop” in the first place, he said.

While some indignant Gedang residents say they weren’t consulted, Mr. Bao says he had their best interests at heart.

“We did it in broad daylight, around 11 a.m. Many people saw us do it...They all agreed,” he said.

“You see those elderly people?” he added, pointing to an elderly woman in magenta who had sidled up to hear the discussion. “Now they don’t need to walk all the way to the village entrance to ride the bus,” he said. The woman nodded her head in agreement.

But inconvenienced riders—including those who live closer to Xiaozuo—aren’t amused.

“If everyone does things this way, moving bus stops around, won’t everything just be in a big muddle?” said one Gedang resident surnamed Jin, who declined to give her first name.
For weeks, the bus operator didn’t replace the original stand. Its drivers doggedly continued to use the old location, even in the absence of any signage. But that created its own confusion.

On a hot day, as the sound of cicadas hummed thickly in the trees, a trio of would-be passengers, including a mother and her young son who weren’t from around those parts, waited at the newly-christened bus stop.

Eventually, the bus arrived. But the vehicle refused to slow, despite frantic signaling from the group. They raced after the bus, only to trail off disgustedly in the heat when it was plain the driver wouldn’t stop.

“People from outside the village are often tricked by the new stop,” said Fang Qiongyan, 17, a local resident.
After all, she said, “that fake bus stop is really very decent-looking. Many people think it’s real.”

The original stop has been replaced, but the moved one still stands.

Yang Jie,Kersten Zhang and Li Jie contributed to this article.