“Zoomies” are what the Chinese call their intercity bus system. From PVG Airport to downtown Shanghai, where I’ve been put up at The Four Seasons, is roughly 46km, which I’ll need to cover by bus. I suspect something likely got lost in its translation to English though because “Zoomies” doesn’t do an ounce of justice to what I can only describe as the cleanest, most futuristic, most modern, and palatial bus that I’ve ever set foot in. Seriously, the design for this thing literally looks like it came out of Blade Runner from the mind of a sci-fi, steampunk genius who loved Voltron and Mechzilla. It’s a sleek and shining steel marvel that sits on elevated tires which allows the bus to glide over any pedestrian cars and rush hour traffic that may be congesting the highway. Again, ingenious. I’d honestly always thought that my birth country, America, was the greatest country on earth. But now, after just two hours of setting foot for the first time in a foreign land, I realize just how misguided I’ve been my entire life. It’s easy to call your own home the greatest when you’ve never bothered visiting someone else’s house.
By the way: In any developed country, you can basically tell how egalitarian the nation is by its public bus transit system because usually, only the people without means (ie. the poor people without cars) will need to rely on the bus system. For example, in America, taking the public bus will usually take five times longer than individually driving and will be the dirtiest and most harrowing ordeal you likely ever subject yourself to. The plastic seats are grimy and disease-infested, the drivers are paid the minimum wage (and drive like it), there’s graffiti everywhere, and more often than not, the bus is running way behind schedule. In America, it’s clear we don’t care about the poorest among us. And thus, the American public bus system is essentially garbage.
Now, China, a country of 1.4 billion people, has a slightly different problem. America only has 330 million people but happens to be, literally, the richest country on planet earth. China, on the other hand, ranks among the poorest in terms of GDP per capita. Additionally, China is a mono-party, communist regime. Meaning: When times are good, everyone’s happy. But when times are bad, there’s no way to “vote” leaders out of power (like we so often do here in America). So instead, you get something like the Cultural Revolution from 1966-1976 where 30 million Chinese people die in a violent overthrow of the government. Thus, it behooves the people in power like General Secretary, Chairman Xi to build gleaming, futuristic bus systems for the legions of the Chinese poor. It’s a pretty good trade, I think– give the hordes of Chinese plebeians a nice and fancy public bus system in return for harmony and stability of the social fabric.