Bus, Tram and Subway Services in Beijing
Information about the city public transport system, including details on where to buy tickets and how to use the Yikatong smart card...
Beijing offers an extensive public transportation network for travellers to get around the city. Public buses, subway (Beijing MTR) and taxis are available throughout the region. Night buses are also in operation after 23:00.
Beijing Municipal Administration and Communications Card (IC card or Yikatong)
Yikatong is a stored-value smart card for use on all subway trains, city buses and Airport Express trains and in some supermarkets. Everyone is eligible to apply for Yikatong. The card can be bought and topped up at most subway stations, post offices and some bus stations.
A deposit fee of RMB 20 will be charged for the first time. When the card is returned, its deposit and balance will be refunded. The different types of Yikatong available are:
- Regular card
- Short-term card (for visitors)
- Student card
- Welfare card (for the elderly and the disabled)
Buses in Beijing are an inexpensive and popular mode of transport with local residents; thus they are often overcrowded. As road traffic in Beijing is a major problem, travel by bus can be slow, though buses tend to be frequent. Signage is usually in Chinese only although audio announcements on board may be in Chinese and English. Bus drivers will only pick up and drop off passengers at designated stops.
The bus system in Beijing is large and complex. Buses are numbered based on characteristics such as whether the bus extends into suburban areas, if it's air-conditioned, or if it's a night-service bus.
There are two bus operators in Beijing. The state-owned Beijing Public Transport Holdings Ltd (BPT) operates about 948 public bus routes, whereas the independent bus operator Beijing Xianglong Bus Co Ltd serves 24 ‘Yuntong’ bus routes. Yuntong buses and BPT buses may have identical bus numbers; passengers can distinguish Yutong buses by the "??" before the bus/route number.
Most buses in Beijing run from 05:30 to 23:00. The night bus services begin from 23:00 and run until 05:00.
Bus fares in the city are inexpensive and when paying with Yikatong, passengers are entitled to a 60 percent discount (80 percent discount for students) on most city bus fares. Three-day, seven-day, fourteen-day and monthly bus passes are also available on BPT buses, each with a limited number of uses. The validity period of these cards begins from the moment of purchase. Passes are not accepted on ‘Yuntong’ buses.
A child under 1.2 metres in height traveling with an adult is entitled to free travel. Any additional children under 1.2 metres in height traveling with the adult must have a paid ticket for travel.
If a passenger has a bag that takes up a seat, a ticket must be purchased for the bag.
- For information on bus routes and fares: Click here
Beijing has a system of trolleybuses that are powered via overhead electrical lines. These trackless vehicles supplement the conventional bus system and operate on the same ticketing system as BPT buses.
Subway (Beijing MTR)
The Beijing Subway has 9 lines. Operating hours are usually from 05:00 to 23:00. Three types of ticket are available:
- Single ticket
- Airport Express ticket
- Public Transportation card (Yikatong)
With the single ticket at a flat rate, passengers are entitled to unlimited transfers to get to their destination.
Airport Express tickets can only be used on the express link to the airport. Tickets can be purchased at ticket counters or vending machines at each station. Fares are collected through Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) machines. The Yikatong card is accepted on all subway lines.
Beijing Suburban Railway
Six S-lines of the Beijing Suburban Railway system which connect outlying districts with Beijing city centre will come into operation by 2020. The suburban railway line S2, running from Beijing North Station to Yanqing County, was opened in 2008.
- For the route map of Beijing Subway System: Click here
- For the official Beijing MTR Corporation website: Click here
Passengers with Disabilities
Passengers with disabilities are entitled to free public transport. Passengers with disabilities must present the Retired Cadres Honorary Certificate or Blind Person Cost-Free Ride Certificate in order to benefit from the free service on most bus and tram routes (except those for small public vehicles) and subway routes.
Animals and heavy items including bicycles are prohibited on Beijing buses and subway lines.