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Beijing Airport Bus 12/2008

Category: China - PRC 2009-03-30

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While waiting at the Beijing Capital International Airport for our son's United Airlines flight to arrive from San Francisco, we debated the different options of getting back to the city. We could choose between the taxi, Airport Express Train, or the Airbus Bus.

We took the taxi on our original arrival two days ago, the taxi fare was about 120 yuan, and took around 75 minutes to get to the hotel.

We took the Airport Express Train to get to the airport earlier today, and cost 25-27 yuan per person, and took just under one hour.

We decided to be adventurous and try the Airport Bus after we pick up Alex. The bus fare is also the cheapest at 16 yuan per person, and the schedule called for about an hour of travel time.

The ticketing desk was right at the lower level of the terminal, just steps away from these buses that are parked outside waiting for their departure.

The ticket agent told us that there is no bus line that is close to the InterContinental hotel we are staying at, and suggested that we should take bus #2 to get to Xidan, which is also the Aviation building on Chang An Street. Chang An Street is the thoroughfare that bisects Beijing East to West, and we figure that it would be easy to make our way to the IC from there.

There are at least six Airport Bus lines, and normal service interval is every 30 minutes or sooner when the bus is full.

After 10am, bus #2, #3 and #4 runs on a 20 minute interval.

The dispatchers by the curb uses a clipboard to keep track of the bus departures, and I noticed that they are running almost exactly to schedule during the entire day.

Alex only had carry-on luggage, and within minutes of him exiting customs, we had our tickets in hand and hopped onto the bus.
Today our bus was about 70% full, and there was plenty of room in the belly luggage bay for all luggages. The drivers seem to take a lot of care in loading the luggages. They reminded me somewhat of the Tokyo Airport Express Bus drivers.

Bus line #2 only makes two intermediate stops, but with the traffic of Beijing, each stop was almost 20 minutes apart, and it took almost exactly an hour for us to reach the final stop at the Aviation Building at Chang An Street.

By this time it was close to 5pm and traffic was very congested, and we had a hard time finding a taxi to take us back to the InterContinental Hotel. By the time we made it back to the hotel, it was almost an hour and forty minutes since we left the airport.

While the Airport Bus is the most inexpensive option, having to deal with the traffic congestion and needing to make [relatively] cumbersome transfer makes it not a great option unless you have light luggages, and your destination is very near one of its stops.

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User comments:

2014-10-10 07:49:49 (GMT-6) 13023: USA
2014-10-05 08:42:54 (GMT-6) 92841: USA
2009-05-29 12:10:48 (GMT-6) ELisabeth Constantine:
2009-03-31 16:03:25 (GMT-6) Lizzy: Reply to Lily: Depending on the number of people and the location of the hotel, sometimes taxi might actually be cheaper!
2009-03-30 17:45:27 (GMT-6) Lily: Wow! I always think Airport bus cost less..

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