A new ad campaign for the Beijing Subway shows emergency service workers using the network to get where they need to go in a hurry.

We love the Beijing Subway as much as the next guy, and we're glad to see that the system appears to have enlisted the help of some talented ad men to try to uplift its image into the modern era.

But the campaign has two problems that will immediately strike a chord with local commuters: (1) the sad reality that it is not the habit of local motorists to get out of the way for ambulances and fire trucks, and (2) the unlikelihood that any normal subway passenger has ever seen the subway this devoid of shoving, jostling crowds.

The ad seems strange for another reason: what is it advertising? Is the Beijing Subway advertising for more passengers?  And why is the slogan "Get There Faster" in English only?

The campaign could be some sort of April Fool's joke or test of concept, but it could also be related to the network's announced plans to seek additional private investment for the development of a whopping 17 more lines. Portions of Beijing's subway network have already received external investment, most prominently from the Hong Kong MTR which runs Line 4 in a public-private joint venture.

Produced by Grey Beijing, the ad campaign is designed for print media, although we haven't seen it anywhere yet (hey Grey, how about the Beijinger?). It also seems a bit too critical or satirical of the actual situation to be used widely.

Is Beijing the World's Biggest Subway Network?
Meanwhile over on data visualization site Dadaviz, user @LeonMarkovitz has given us a good look at which subway system is the world's largest. Based on Wikipedia data, the chart shows that Beijing ranks up there in the top 3, and who's number 1 is based on how you define it: Beijing has the most riders, Shanghai has the longest track length, and New York City has the most stations. No one else even comes close.

Better Subway Toilets on the Way
Meanwhile, Global Times reported last week that 20 stations on the network will have their public toilets renovated before the end of 2015. Work on Lines 5 and 10 is underway and will be finished before the end of this month, and among the stations to get new facilities are Guomao and Jinsong stations. Here's to hoping they get around to adding or renovating public toilets in the remaining 94% of the network's stations sooner rather than later.

Images: Grey Beijing via Mumbrella; graphic by @LeonMarkovitz for @dadaviz

Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog