Chinese city of Shenzhen rolls out ‘women first’ subway carriages across entire network

Scheme aims to provide a hassle-free travel environment for female passengers, but most commuters are unimpressed

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 March, 2018, 11:58am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 March, 2018, 2:28pm

A city in southern China has rolled out its “women first” subway carriages scheme to its entire network, state media reported, though female passengers are sceptical about how effective the move will be.

Authorities in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, became the first in the country to introduce priority carriages for women in June, when they launched a pilot scheme on four of the city’s subway lines, Xinhua reported on Sunday.

Although the carriages were not entirely off-limits to men, the aim was to give women a way to travel without being harassed by male passengers, especially during rush hours. The idea was soon also adopted in the neighbouring city of Guangzhou.

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The extension of the scheme to all eight lines in Shenzhen, one of China’s tech hubs, was announced on Thursday, International Women’s Day, the report said.

According to the city’s subway officials, the first and last carriages of all trains are now designated as “Priority Carriages for Women”. To distinguish them from the rest of the train, pink signs have been attached to the corresponding platform screen doors and inside the carriages, while station announcers broadcast details of the service in Mandarin, Cantonese and English.

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Despite the good intentions, the scheme had yet to impress the city’s female subway users, the report said.

Shenzhen resident Xu Qiaoyin was quoted as saying that she once pointed out to a male passenger that the crowded carriage he was trying to get inside was intended for use by women only.

“But he just pushed past me and squeezed in,” she said.

In a poll of women commuters by local newspaper Guangzhou Daily, more than 60 per cent of respondents said the women-only subway carriages were frequently full of men.