HomeBeijing Transportation

Public Bus in Beijing

Beijing now has a much improved transport system, which includes buses of various types traveling along multitudinous lines. The public bus and the trolleybus are the main bus types which are reasonably optimized. There are urban lines (bus No.1 to No. 122), night buses (bus No. 201 to 212), suburban lines (bus No. 300 to No. 949), air-conditioned buses (beginning with 8), double-decker buses (beginning with 特- Te in Chinese means special), and tourist buses that travel along special lines taking in the many scenic spots.

Many of the old buses have been replaced by energy-saving green buses. These new buses are quipped with electronic bus-stop announcements, IC card readers, electronic monitors, and passenger-monitoring devices. Some buses in Beijing are installed with mobile television. Live broadcast televisions can be viewed on the bus if the bus is traveling under the speed of 120 kilometers (74.56 miles) per hour. Broadcast times are from 06:00 to 23:00 daily, when buses are in operation.

Bus Ticket Fare

Bus fare can be either a flat or measured fare. Some buses are installed with IC Card (Integrated Circuit Card) readers. When card readers are absent, the conductor is essential. Self-service ticketing buses are marked on the exterior of the bus or on bus signs. Before you board the bus, it is best to have the correct change ready.

With a Yikatong IC card in hand, people enjoy a 60% discount in 447 bus routes (including the buses beginning with 特), and students enjoy an 80% discount. For most bus lines adopt the IC card readers, you will spend at most CNY 0.4 for your trip, even when taking an air-conditioned bus. While in the buses beginning with 9 (909 to 996) and the special bus line, for example, Huangxiang Zhuanxian, you can enjoy a 20% discount using a Yikatong IC card. , However, the above-mentioned preferential treatment is invalid on long distance public buses. You could add money to your Yikatong IC card in increments of CNY 10.00. The smallest amount you could add is CNY 10 and the largest is CNY 500, with a limit of CNY 1000. When you purchase the card for the first time, you have to pay CNY 20 as the deposit.

If your baggage occupies the area equal to a standing passenger, you will be charged another ticket for your baggage. Some public buses in Beijing will examine the passengers' tickets when they get off the bus; a conductor will view your ticket, so keep it with you at all times whilst traveling on the bus.

Traveling by public bus in Beijing is relatively inexpensive. The fare is determined by the type of bus and the distance traveled. As a guide, you can expect to pay the following rates indicated below in table 1. The flag down rate for the common bus is generally CNY 1.00 and the fare will increase according to the distance to your destination. Basically, CNY 1.00 will be added for every 5 kilometers (3.1 miles), while others add every 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). All prices are clearly marked on bus signs.

Bus Category
Bus Number
Ticket Fare and Charging Way
Downtown public bus/trolley bus/night bus
No.1 to No.212 (Overnight)
Flat fare CNY 1.00 for the whole line
Urban public bus/trolley bus
No.300 to No.526
Some adopt flat fare, and some charge by kilometer. Taking CNY 1.00 as flag down rate for 12 kilometers (7.5 miles), the price goes up by CNY 0.5 for every extra 5 kilometers (3.1 miles).
Public bus in residential area
No.601 to No.699
Urban public rapid
No.701 to No.758
Taking CNY 1.00 as flag down rate for 12 kilometers (7.5 miles), the price goes up by CNY 0.5 for every extra 5 kilometers (3.1 miles).
Public bus with air-condition
No.800 to No.858
Public bus from urban district to suburb
No.909 to No.996
Taking CNY 1.00 as flag down rate for 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), the price goes up by CNY 1 for every extra 10 kilometers.

How to Take the Bus

On a bus stop board, you can find information such as the number of the bus, departures, terminus, first runs, last runs, and the name of the current stop. The names of bus stops are written in Chinese characters. The first and last runs are shown respectively by Chinese characters '首班车' and '末班车'. The stops listed vertically on the board are under a set of consecutive numbers. There is always a long arrow (→) under the names of the stops, and the directions of the arrows indicate the directions that the bus travels. Also, some show the ticket fare of the bus on the board.

Check your bus number and destination before boarding the bus. Many names of places are the same, and this may cause some confusion. Some buses only permit boarding from the middle door and exiting from the front and back, so take the bus form the right door and pay the fare. You can write the Chinese name of your destination and show it to the driver or conductor if you cannot speak Chinese. The newest Beijing map, available at bookstalls, provides detailed line information and all bus numbers in Chinese. If you are not familiar with the routes, ask the conductor for help, since the re-routing for public lines often occurs.

When a bus reaches a stop, the bus-stop name will be announced by the electronic bus-stop announcement machine, and then repeated by the conductor or the driver. All announcements are in Chinese, and conductors and drivers typically do not understand English. Some buses along the route of Chang'an Jie or places where there are more foreigners announce the stop names in both Chinese and English. Inform the conductor or other passengers of your destination in advance, and assistance may be provided when approaching your stop.

Traffic jam occurs frequently in Beijing, especially during the rush hour. Theft is a problem on the bus transport system. Money, mobile phones and other valuables need to be kept well secured especially when boarding and exiting the bus. If your trip is a little long, BeijingTrip.com suggests takings the subway first and then transferring to the public bus.