When I first came to Beijing on a vacation in 2006, there were 3 subway lines: Line 1, the old government line, which opened in 1969; line 2, which traces the second ring road, and line 13, which connects the northern periphery to the city.
Look at the Beijing subway map now! Its network was already bigger than the London Tube and it carries significantly more riders every day than the Tube or the New York Metro. And the Beijing subway system extended its reach yet again at the end of December 2015.
The newest additions to Beijing’s subway
Just like last year, the subway expansion included both extensions of existing lines and opening of a brand new line. Here are the details.
Line 15 from the expat suburb Shunyi now extends past the Olympic Center to almost Wudaokou, the main university area. Line 14 East now connects from line 15 via Chaoyang Park area to line 6, which only opened the year before.
And the brand new line 7 runs parallel to the south of line 1, the oldest one. It connects the Southeast via Shuangjing to the Beijing West railway station.
These additions and extensions better connect some expat areas and hopefully ease the rush hour crowds. See an up-to-date Beijing subway map and read more about taking the subway here.
Subway fares went up
With all the extension came another change. Before, every subway ride, no matter how long or short, cost just 2 RMB. As of December 28 the fare schedule has changed to a distance-based fare. The base fare has increased and now starts at 3 RMB for the first 6 km. After that it goes up in 1 RMB increments all the way to 10 RMB for rides over 92 km (I’m not sure you can even go that far at this time). 4-5 RMB should still get you to most places within the city.
Using the IC card, also called Yikatong, is still the most convenient way to pay. You can read more about the Yikatong in my post about public transportation.
If you use the Yikatong, you will receive a discount for anything you spend above 100 RMB in a calendar month. For any amount spent between 100 RMB and 150 RMB, you’ll get 20% off. And for any amount spent between 150 RMB and 400 RMB, you get 50% discount. Above 400 RMB the discounts ends.
I think overall the subway in Beijing is still a pretty good deal.