70 Years Inherited: Bus No. 49 in Shanghai

Liu Changyan is a driver on bus No. 49. His father used to be a conductorr on the same coach.

When Liu was young, he rode the bus every day after school. Sitting in the back, he would read books quietly and enjoy the beautiful night views through the window. He would only get back home after his father finished his shift. Hankou Road, People's Square, Shanghai Indoor Stadium are all on the bus's route.

No. 49 is arguably the best bus in Shanghai. Since 1956, this number has adopted various bus models, traveling for the same bus line, from Dodge, Skoda 706RTO diesel to Volvo ultra-long. Now, bus No. 49 is equipped with an automatic gasoline engine and fitted with surveillance cameras, GPS and air conditioner. The "superbus" has always ridden with the times.

The comfortable space of bus No. 49 is only matched by its stellar service. The personnel on the bus were awarded the "Shanghai Labor Model Team" for four times.

As a member of the "Team of Model Bus," Liu feels exceptionally proud of his work. In August 2018, the bus company scrapped the position of conductor. With a shrunk crew though, the high-quality service remains intact.

"In my father's days, every time the bus door opened, he would shout: 'Fares please, or show the commuting ticket!' Now, our service is getting better, I would remind our passengers of their safety: 'Elderly people, please sit well and hold tight. Please offer your seats to passengers with babies. Thank you for your cooperation!'" 

At the first and last stop, the staff helps elderly passengers with limited mobility and those with children get on and off the bus. They go as far as carrying their luggage.

As the subway network expands in Shanghai, fewer passengers are now taking the bus. The route of bus No. 49 spans new and old neighborhoods, passing through a number of scenic spots and ancient buildings. This makes the bus popular with new visitors. The crew of bus No. 49 have long insisted on outstanding service. "We have a catchphrase: For our passengers, we must work hard every day."

For decades, bus No. 49 has run through the streets of Shanghai, witnessing its development and evolving into a symbol of the city.