Talking Travel: your roundup of Beijing’s latest transportation-related news.
Subway stations adding WeChat/Alipay support (finally!)
At long last, the city’s subway stations have joined the overworld in the cashless revolution. By the end of August, a total of 55 stations will allow ticket purchases via WeChat and Alipay. Previously, some stations allowed cashless single-ticket purchases, but passengers had to download an app to use the machine. The new system will support ticket purchases and card recharging, all accessible with a scan of your app’s payment QR code.
This is not a first for China’s urban transit systems. Shanghai and Shenzhen added support in May 2018, and Hangzhou, home of Alibaba, has of course supported Alipay ticket purchase for a few years now. Beijing may be late to the party but in our eyes, this is still cause to celebrate as we wave goodbye to pretty much the only reason to carry cash anymore.
Daxing Airport Express announces fares
If there’s one thing we’re not excited about Beijing’s new Daxing Airport, it’s that it’s even further out of town that the old one (approximately 50km from the center versus 25km). With an average ride costing upwards of RMB 160, flying from Daxing could negate any savings you made from nabbing a cheap flight. The good news is, that much like the Airport Express that carries passengers to Beijing Capital International Airport, a separate line will carry them south to Daxing Airport. The bad news: boarding starts near the south Fourth Ring Road.
Tickets from Lize Business District station (Line 14) or Caoqiao station (Line 10) to the airport will be priced at RMB 35, or RMB 10 if passengers alight early at Caoqiao station or Daxing Xincheng station. It is possible to board the line using a Beijing transit card, otherwise, tickets can be purchased at the gate. There is no word yet on whether this line will eventually replace traditional ticketing methods with the facial-recognition system which is currently being trialed on the Airport Express line.
There are a couple of differences with Beijing Capital Airport Express. For one thing, Business class seating is available at RMB 50 per one-way ticket. Second, frequent travelers can purchase tickets in bulk: 45 tickets for RMB 550, 30 tickets RMP 470, or 20 tickets for RMB 385.
Beijing begins electric overhaul of its taxi fleet
With Didi in our pockets, sometimes it’s easy to forget that classic cabs still roam the streets, merrily spitting pollutants into the air. That’s about to change. Beijing will have 20,000 electric taxis by 2020, meaning that over 28 percent of the city’s taxis will be battery-powered at the end of next year, according to Xinhua.
The move aims to curb pollution in the city, and while the current fleet of taxis mostly consists of compact cars with relatively light emissions, the most common model (about half of all taxis in the city) is the Hyundai Elantra. That model, among several others, notoriously caused Hyundai to become embroiled in a lawsuit a few years ago for misleading consumers about its true emissions. Other common Beijing taxi models include the Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Jetta.
Currently, electric vehicles are not significantly better for the environment than gas-powered ones (as the generation of electricity still largely relies upon coal-powered stations), but the replacement lays the groundwork for when more sustainable methods of producing electrical power become more widespread. For example, as we previously reported, Beijing has already begun receiving power all the way from Tibet, where it is being produced using hydroelectric and geothermal methods.
Initial steps of the replacement process are already underway, and 800 electric taxis were delivered to Beijing taxi companies just last week. According to the supplier, BAIC Motor Corp, the electric models feature fast charging and battery replacement. Over 100 battery swap stations have been built in Beijing, and 190 new stations are planned for next year.
Hainan suspends Beijing to Dublin route until 2020
No luck for the Irish this week, as Hainan Airlines has put direct flights from Beijing to Dublin on hold until after the winter. Additionally, they have also permanently canceled direct flights from Shenzhen to Dublin. The news comes as a disappointment to Tourism Ireland, who have been vigorously promoting tourism from China, and welcomed the new route with open arms when it first began flying a year ago.
Finally, a deal alert for US fliers
Travelers considering a trip to the US, take note. Right now, round-trip flights from China to US airports are available for under USD 400 from August 2019 to March 2020 on airlines including United, Delta, and American Airlines. Learn more about specifics via The Points Guy here.