The mainland's first inter-provincial subway link started running yesterday morning, connecting downtown Shanghai with neighbouring Kunshan in Jiangsu province.
The extension of subway Line 11 in Shanghai to subway lines in Kunshan means travel time from Huaqiao station in Kunshan to Shanghai's downtown Xujiahui station is only 70 minutes.
A one-way ticket costs seven yuan (HK$8.85).
The mainland is in the midst of a subway construction spree. The National Development and Reform Commission last year approved 23 subway lines and three railway lines in numerous cities with investment totalling 700 billion yuan. Suzhou and Wuxi , two other cities in Jiangsu, will be connected to Shanghai by subway by 2015.
Curious crowds gathered at platforms of Line 11 to see and experience the new link. More than 90 per cent of passengers were travelling to Kunshan and most were elderly, the Shanghai Evening Post reported.
"The subway used to go to Anting station and we had to change to a bus to go to Huaqiao. Now it's much easier," an elderly man told the newspaper.
Another man said he bought an apartment in Kunshan two years ago and had been looking forward to the link.
"The ride was one hour and a half. My bottom hurt even though I had a seat. I have never taken such a long subway ride," he told the newspaper.
With the six-kilometre extension, Line 11 now boasts the longest subway line in the city at 72 kilometres. The new link will mainly benefit the increasing number of commuters who live in Kunshan and work in Shanghai, and elderly Shanghai people who bought retirement homes in Kunshan.
"It saves me more than 20 yuan every day," Ma Xiaoya, a resident of Kunshan who works in Shanghai told Xinhua.