Shanghai Metro – Rated and Reviewed Line by Line

Shanghai Metro – Rated and Reviewed Line by Line

Shanghai metro line map

The complete Shanghai metro line map, as of 2019.

So it’s time to choose an apartment in Shanghai, and you’re debating a location.

Of course you want to be near a subway station, but which metro line should you be on?

The obvious answer is “whichever my commute requires” (try this app to check possible routes) but the Shanghai Metro is so interconnected that you may have several options. (For instance, LTL Shanghai is located on lines 1, 10, and 12!)

Location

For a newcomer to Shanghai, the huge metro line map can be overwhelming and difficult to interpret.

But never fear!

Your humble author has ridden every line currently open at least once, and has needed to commute to work on over half of them. I spent so much time on the Shanghai metro that I considered it my second home. Based on this wealth of experience, here is my evaluation of every metro line for convenience, crowd level, and cleanliness.

Shanghai Metro Line 1

Shanghai Metro Line 1 - Welcome to Xujiahui

Shanghai Metro Line 1 – Welcome to Xujiahui

Pros: Goes to quite a lot of desirable metro stations, including Xujiahui, Changshu Rd, People’s Square, and Shanghai Railway Station. Let’s also not forget LTL Shanghai’s South Shaanxi Road Station!

Cons: Being the oldest metro line, the stations and trains can be run down and walks to other lines are longer than average.

The terminus stations fill up instantly with commuters heading to the city centre, so good luck ever getting a seat if you’re located near the end.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Shanghai Metro Line 2

Pros: Has a good selection of metro stations, such as Zhongshan Park, Jing’an Temple, and People’s Square. Connects both Pudong and Hongqiao airports, Hongqiao train station, and the Pudong airport maglev.

Cons: Full of tourists. Stations and trains are a bit older, though in better shape than Line 1. Some line transfers are longer than average.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Shanghai Metro Line 3

Pros: Can choose to ride either line 3 or 4 in the center of the line. Goes to the central Shanghai railway station.

Cons: Being aboveground, it requires more than the average amount of stair climbing. Trains are in somewhat worse shape than line 4 trains.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Shanghai Metro Line 4

Pros: Can choose to ride either line 3 or 4 in the northern section of the line. Goes to the main train station. Trains are in somewhat better shape than line 3 trains.

Cons: The aboveground section requires more stairs than most underground metro stations.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Shanghai Metro Line 5

Shanghai Metro Line 5 - Not our favourite line!

Shanghai Metro Line 5 – Not our favourite line!

Pros: Really none unless you need to get to the far end of Minhang.

Cons: Overcrowded. Shorter hours than other metro lines. Only connects to line 1. Does not go anywhere except the far end of Minhang.

New extension requires changing trains in the middle of the line.

Seriously, even though the rent is cheap, don’t live on line 5 if you can avoid it.

Overall Rating: 1/5

Shanghai Metro Line 6

Pros: Goes through Pudong, if you need to go through Pudong. Several metro line transfers available at Century Park.

Cons: Trains seem to have a lower than average amount of seating room. Doesn’t go anywhere in the city center, so it does not have any particularly exciting stations. Still a bit better than line 5.

Overall Rating: 2/5

Shanghai Metro Line 7

Shanghai Metro Line 7 - Jing'an Temple

Shanghai Metro Line 7 – Jing’an Temple

Pros: Has a few good stations (Jing’an Temple, Changshu Rd) and a central route that allows for relatively convenient connection to other metro lines.

Very long line that extends from the north of Shanghai all the way down south and through to the east of the city via the maglev

Cons: Goes to the Pudong airport maglev, but by a more roundabout way than line 2.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Shanghai Metro Line 8

Pros: Seemingly less crowded than average.

Cons: Does not go much of anywhere; seems to exist just to connect suburbs to the city center. Transfers to other metro lines are mostly not in central locations, leading to longer travel time overall.

Overall Rating: 2/5

Shanghai Metro Line 9

Pros: Has a good choice of fun stops through the southern central part of Puxi (Xujiahui, Dapuqiao, Xiaonanmen). Connects both Songjiang and Pudong. The Pudong section of the line is relatively uncrowded.

Cons: The Songjiang section is full of commuters at all hours of the day. Does not go to any transportation hubs.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Shanghai Metro Line 10

Pros: Goes right through the middle of town, with a good stop selection and easy transfers. Stops at Hongqiao train station.

Cons: Also stops at nearly every tourist trap in Shanghai.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Shanghai Metro Line 11

Shanghai Metro - Disney Station

Shanghai Metro – Disney Station

Pros: Goes through the western end of town, but not so far west that you’re out in the suburbs. Goes to Disneyland.

(I suppose this might be a con if you dislike children…)

Cons: Seems to have particularly bad rush hour crowds compared to other metro lines.

Does not go to any transportation hubs.

Overall Rating: 2/5

Shanghai Metro Line 12

Map of Nanjing West Rd Station

Map of Nanjing West Rd Station

Pros: Has a couple decent stops in the middle of town (South Shaanxi Rd, West Nanjing Rd).

Seems a bit less crowded than the average metro line.

Cons: Does not go to any transportation hubs (unless you count the cruise terminal).

Includes the worst line transfer in Shanghai, West Nanjing Rd, in which you actually have to leave the station to get on the other lines.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Shanghai Metro Line 13

Pros: Has a good number of desirable central stops (Natural History Museum through Madang Rd).

Cons: Does not go to any transportation hubs. Also includes the terrible West Nanjing Rd transfer.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Shanghai Metro Line 14 and 15

Still not completed (as of mid 2019).

I have a personal vendetta against line 14, because its future site went right past my first apartment in Shanghai, and the noise and traffic around it were awful. Such is the cost of progress!

Shanghai Metro Line 16

Pros: The only line that has escalators directly connecting one line platform to the other. Is this new technology in Shanghai?

Or is there a conspiracy to improve overall physical fitness by forcing commuters to climb stairs?

Cons: Goes absolutely nowhere. I guess you can technically get to the ocean, but it’s a solid contender for most depressing beach in the world!

At least you have a couple choices of lines to connect to once you are back in Shanghai proper?

Overall Rating: 0/5

Shanghai Metro Line 17

Pros: Goes to Hongqiao railway station.

Cons: Location-wise, it’s only slightly better than line 16, and only because of the train station (and maybe Zhujiajiao).

Again, not a desirable place to live.

Overall Rating: 1/5

Shanghai Metro Line 18

Pros: Your only option if you are unfortunate enough to live on this line.

Cons: Does this even count as part of Shanghai anymore? See my comments on lines 16 and 17.

Overall Rating: -1/5

Shanghai Metro – The Verdict

Shanghai Metro

Speaking as someone whose work required taking the Shanghai metro 4 or more times a day, your apartment’s quality of line can have a significant impact on your quality of life.

Which metro line you live on makes a huge difference in how long it takes to get around this enormous city.

Similarly, being on a convenient line can allow you to live farther from the city center without sacrificing your access to fun.

Before you choose an apartment, make sure you’ve considered which subway line it’s on!

The Metro scene is ever changing in China, lines get added at a rate that is scarcely believable!

We’ll keep this updated year on year but if you have any experiences or thoughts on the Shanghai Metro, leave a comment and tell us what you think!

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