Be A Bus Champion: Travel in Beijing by Bus2016-05-25 13:40:00Share:
Being a bus champion is learning the best way to plan your route. There are a lot of options available, but these are the three that are easiest to navigate.
One of the easiest ways to plan a route is to use Google Maps, especially if you have a phone that gives you access to internet on the go. The reason I would recommend this over a domestic version such as Baidu is because Google Maps labels the streets in pinyin, and sometimes even in English. Apple Map is also available in English sometimes.
This can make things much easier if you are not the strongest Chinese reader. If you can't access Google Maps, or would just prefer to use Baidu, these instructions are applicable to both.
Firstly, enter the location where you're starting (for this example I've used Anding men). When you zoom in on the map, you'll see little blue icons that have a white outline of a bus. Clicking on this will give you a dialogue box with the name of that bus station and the numbers of the buses that stop there.
The next step is to open a map with the location where you're going. I would recommend doing this in a second tab or window because it makes it much easier to compare the two locations. Click on a bus icon to compare and see if any of the numbers are the same.
You may not always find a match on your first click, so try some of the surrounding bus stops as well. Sometimes you'll need to walk to a main street or a cross street in order to find a bus that is heading in the direction you want to go.
The Beijing Transit Authority can be found at www.bjbus.com, and their site is available in English. It is not the most reliable resource, because there are often glitches and translation problems. If you feel comfortable using the site in Chinese, the experience is much smoother.
There are two main search options at the top of the page. The first (on the far left) allows you to put in two destinations, and it will then hypothetically tell you which buses travel between them. I have not had the greatest luck with this feature, but I have also never had it give me incorrect information.
Unfortunately, it usually just comes back with nothing. This could be due to the way they've programmed their pinyin, but it's also likely due to the fact that it's looking for a station name rather than a location name.
The second search option (on the far right) allows you to put in a bus number, and it will then pull up a map that shows that bus' route in both directions. This is not necessarily handy if you have a specific destination in mind, but it can be useful if you're trying to figure out where a particular bus goes.
Just like you can purchase a map of Beijing, you can also purchase a bus map of Beijing. My personal favorite is like a small atlas that can easily fit in a backpack or large purse. I purchased this one at the Beijing Books Building in Xidan, where they have a comprehensive map section on the first floor, just behind the escalators.
As with any other map, there is a large version on the first pages that then breaks down the city into quadrants and tells you on which pages each quadrant is located. For each bus stop, it will show you the name of the stop along with the numbers of the buses that travel there.
Once you choose a bus number, you can then check the index in the back of the book that will not only give you the names of all the stops on that route but also the approximate times that each bus on the route leaves the first station.
The advantage to carrying a resource like this is that you don't necessarily need to plan in advance to ride the bus. If you find yourself in an unknown neighborhood, you can simply pull out the book and find your way home. Also, unlike using your cell phone as a map, it doesn't rely on there being Wi-Fi nearby. The disadvantage is that books like this generally do not contain pinyin, so it may be difficult to use if you have trouble reading characters.
However, Chinese reading ability is not necessarily required if you have a good sense of direction. In order to get home, simply find the quadrant where you are, find the quadrant where your apartment is, and compare the numbers.
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