, Nov. 5 -- What's your impression of 's Metro? Brighter than Paris' and cleaner than Beijing's? Regardless of other comparisons, it shares one thing with most other subway systems in major cities around the world: It is extremely crowded during rush hours.
Millions of people in Shanghai take the Metro to work. After a long tiring day in the office, the stuffy crowded metro carriages can be depressing.
Imagine if you could hear birds singing, read beautiful poems and look at colorful pictures - would that brighten the trip?
Shanghai's Metro may start using public spaces in metro lines to display arts and fashions. The Metro company has decided to turn Metro Line No. 13, the future Shanghai Expo line running to the Expo site, into another "exhibition hall" for the event.
Shanghai will have 11 Metro lines in 2010, totaling 400 kilometers, in which five lines, No. 4, 6, 7, 8 and 13, will have stops in the 5.28-square-kilometer World Expo site.
The mini-line No. 13, with only four stations, is set to be the maintool for the Expo site and will travel between the two sides of Huangpu River.
The metro stations of line No. 13 will have special "Expo direction" signs, Ying Minghong, chairman of the Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, told a forum on Metro and Expo.
"Also, we will use Expo-related colors and patterns in the 14 stations of the five metro lines running through the Expo site," said Ying. "Even if the visitors can't read any Chinese or English, they will know which lines will take them to the Expo site."
"The daily capacity of Shanghai's Metro lines is estimated to reach six million by 2010," said Hu Jingjun, deputy director of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination.
"About half of the daily 400,000 passengers visiting during the Expo period - from May 1 to October 31 - are expected to take Metro lines to the site," said Hu.
"The Metro is no longer a simple transport tool. With lighting boxes and LCD screens, the trains could also be used in public promotion," he added.
Shanghai has already carried out a joint trial art project with Britain: Shanghai trains displayed some British poems on the Metro lines, while trains on London's underground displayed Chinese ones.
In Lisbon, Portugal, the total metro network covers only 19 kilometers, but the entire system doubles as an huge underground art gallery: Each station is decorated with artworks made from different tiles.
"Shanghai could invite young calligraphers to inscribe the names of metro stations," suggested Albert Asseraf, director of strategy, research and marketing at JCDecaux, at the forum.
"Also, the stations could have more Chinese traditional elements, such as tiles with paper-cut patterns on them," said Asseraf. "And the stations on Huaihai Road, which symbolizes fashion in Shanghai, could display some of the city's popular garments from different eras, such as the qipao, the traditional woman's costume."
Li Tiangang, a professor at Fudan University, suggested showcasing more of Shanghai's history at the stations.
Li said the Metro stations in the former Nanshi District (now part of Huangpu District), where people can see the original look of old Shanghai, could display some of its rich legacies from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
"For Xujiahui," Li said, "some elements of latter-day culture could be displayed, such as images of the city's first observatory and the Xujiahui Cathedral, one of the largest Catholic churches in Asia."
"Every city has something or someone that can represent it," said Han Binghua, a Hong Kong designer. "Denmark's Copenhagen has Andersen; Italy's Rome has Da Vinci. They have put images of these famous figures in public places."
"We can pick some interesting stories about famous people in Shanghai," said Han. "Such as Einstein - he learned that he'd won the Nobel Prize when he was in Shanghai."
Currently, the city's 140-kilometer Metro network handles 16 percent of the city's overall public transport volume, which has already been seen as a potential promotion market.
"Shanghai's Metro system in 2010 will become the biggest moving exhibition in the world," said Hu.
"The city might debut the metro as an art museum during Expo to introduce the concept of public art in the metropolis," said Hu.
In a similar move, London is planning to broadcast the sounds of animals and birds, which will make commuters feel as though they are in a natural setting, said John Howkins, chairman of the London-based ITR Creative Consultants Ltd.
Maybe one day in the future, birdsong will be as common in Shanghai's trains as the songs of buskers outside the London underground stations. (Shanghai Daily)