Beijing Rides High Underground

City finally digging, in defiance of all geomancy
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2009 1:59 PM CST
A woman wearing a mask stands on an elevator at a subway entrance near the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.   (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
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(Newser) – The days of endless traffic jams are over in Beijing, thanks to an ambitious and suddenly popular new subway network, the Wall Street Journal reports. For decades Beijing’s subway has languished, ineffective and, because digging underground violates the mystic rules of feng shui, controversial. “The city’s surface was never breached,” said one sociologist. Then the Olympics changed everything.

When Beijing won the Olympics in 2001, it began feverishly expanding its network. When the 2008 Games finally came, it brought with it draconian traffic rules that forced commuters underground. Now, the subway is a booming business, and is set to expand to 348 miles—50% longer than NYC's network—over the next 7 years. “It’s made a huge difference in my life,” said one commuter. “I never see anything above ground anymore.”