Don’t Mess With the Conductors!

Beijing public transport is sometimes scary. Especially in the rush hours you can see buses cutting into the bicycles’ lane, literally shouting at the cyclists and pedestrians: “靠边儿, 靠边儿, 靠边儿! Kào biānr, kào biānr, kào biānr!” – “Get out of the way, immediately!!” For a long time I thought this was coming from some tape recorder or sound generator, as it sounded like the bus itself had found an angry voice to articulate its road rage, but in fact the drivers at least of the older buses seem to have microphones connected to some outside speaker system (Update, Aug 19: Some of the sound bites actually come from tape, I’ve noticed. And it’s not the drivers but the conductors who do the rest of the shouting). Beijingese, in order to illustrate the rudeness of the bus system (and giving good excuse for generally favoring taxis), like to tell the story of a female bus conductor who in October 2005 actually strangled a 14-year old girl in face of her parents after some dispute about the girl’s fare. So you’d better always buy a valid ticket!

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