In Chengdu has a great bus system. I’m impressed by the bus stops that boast metal shelters and large advertisement windows that look like bus stops in large cities in the U.S. Honolulu’s bus stops by comparison are shabby. The buses have televisions showing CCTV programs for your viewing pleasure. And an pleasant sounding auto-attendant announces each stop over the PA system just like in a modern subway.
Bus rides are either 1 kuai for a non air conditioned bus and 2 kuai for an air conditioned bus. You can buy a bus card which as far as I can tell is called a 公交卡 (gong jiao ka). It’s a plastic card with what seems to be an RFID chip. You load up the card with money and each time you get on the bus, you place it on or near the sensor next to the driver and the display will tell you how many RMB you have left on the card. This is what my card looks like.
To buy a card, go to any Hongqi convenience store or newsstand kiosk and ask if they have any 公交卡 (gong jiao ka). Each time I’ve bought one it’s cost 25 RMB. I’ve heard that if you go directly to a bus station, you can get them for 20 RMB, but 5 kuai ain’t worth the bother.
Once you have a bus card, your next step is to find the nearest Hongqi chain store. Even though it might look like the card has a 20 yuan value, but its got nothing on it. Even though you can buy the bus cards from a newsstand, they can’t add value to the card. You can only do that at a Hongqi. Not all Hongqis can add value to bus cards, but it seems that most do. Right near the cashier at a Hongqi probably mounted on the wall will be a grey colored device where you can check the value on your card. Tell the cashier that you want to add money to your bus pass. I believe the minimum amount you can add is 10 kuai.
There are two methods 50% off or 10% off.
50% off allows you to use get a 20 kuai value on the card for the 10 kuai you put in up front. So with this method, you can take 10 rides instead of just 5 if you paid in cash each time. But you have only until the end of the month to use up the card value before it expires. A great benefit though is that you get free rides for about two hours after you use the card to ride a bus. That means free transfers or return trips within the time frame.
With this method your card value never expires but you’d only get 11 kuai for 10.