China’s growing wealth gap has been thrust into the spotlight by a reports that a new subway in Shenzhen, a city of 10 million located near Hong Kong, will soon feature “VIP” carriages.
Southern Metropolitan Daily reported this week that two carriages out of eight on one line will cost around twice the price of a normal ticket, and will have larger areas for luggage and no space for standing. The plan is to meet “different passengers’ demands”, an official said.
The news (predictably) sent a ripple though Weibo, with many users unhappy about what looks like a move towards economic segregation, WSJ reports. “The government should make efforts to prevent the subway from breaking down, instead of creating a haven for rich people,” one Weibo user posted.
However, the deputy manager of the Shenzhen subway has attempted to clarify the plan today, and has been keen to not use the word “VIP”, instead preferring “special compartments”.
“Line 11 is from downtown to the airport, like an airport express, so it won’t be very crowded,” Chen Qi said, according to China Daily.
“Trains for that line will have eight compartments, instead of six, so we plan to make two compartments special, on which we won’t sell standing tickets. This is to meet the demands of high-end customers,” he said.
Chen noted that the subway from airport in Hong Kong had a similar system.