Caught in a rainstorm and need an umbrella? No problem, just come on down to your nearest local metro station and pick up a free one! That’s right, FREE. Once again, Shanghai’s metro stations are renewing their hugely popular service of free umbrella rentals during the plum rain season (June).
All you have to do is go to your local metro station and register your name and cellphone number. Afterward, you receive a special yellow-colored umbrella with a Shanghai Metro logo decorated on top (another possibility is an umbrella made from recyclable materials, as noted by its unique heart design).
The only catch is that you can only take out an umbrella for one week at a time and must return it to the station you borrowed it from. That said, what happens to you if you don’t return these, let me say it again, FREE umbrellas? Nothing.
Well that’s not entirely true. You may get a short friendly text message or phone call reminding you to return what you borrowed, but that’s it.
From the initial 20,000 umbrellas first put in use six years ago, only a staggering 600 were accounted for earlier this year. To remedy this problem officials have made it a bit more difficult to acquire an umbrella. This year, in order to access the FREE umbrellas, you must first ask a station attendant. By not having these umbrellas out in the open, officials are hoping this year’s return rate will increase.
This year there is 30,000 umbrellas up for grabs and as Shanghai Metro Operations official Huang Qiongnuo put it “We hope that, while enjoying the service, users also think of other people who might also need an umbrella”.
By Patrick Keefe