Zebra Crossing Ahead!

13 03 2011

After 2 and half years of riding buses in Xiamen, I’ve finally figured out the final announcement that plays on the buses.  I’d figured out the first half a while ago, but the second half was more difficult, especially since one word is not pronounced properly (in my opinion).  I searched online to find out what the final word was, which is the one I was having trouble with, and it seems other people who’ve heard this announcement also misheard what was being said, so it’s not just me.  So, this announcement translates to “Zebra crossing ahead.  Please slow down and give way (to the people crossing/wanting to cross)”. 

The first thing that struck me was this is clearly not an announcement meant for the passengers of the bus, but for the bus driver.  It baffles me as to why there is a specific announcement for the driver to tell him or her to slow down at a zebra crossing and let people cross.  I think that the traffic laws in China state that the cars don’t have to give way to pedestrians who are waiting to cross the road, but a pedestrian already on the zebra crossing has right of way.  Surely bus drivers should already know this, thus making the announcement obsolete?  However, this is china (a common phrase among expats in China), so it doesn’t surprise me when people break rules like the zebra crossing one.  Bus drivers have probably learned to tune out the announcement anyway, judging from my own experiences, so it’s a pretty useless feature now.

The other thing that is odd about the zebra crossing announcement is that this is the only type of warning for the bus driver.  There’s no “Traffic light ahead.  Please slow down and don’t go through red lights.” or “Your bus has too many passengers, it’s not a competition you know” or “You are driving on the wrong side of the road. You may have a death wish, but the passengers don’t” announcements.  Maybe we’ll hear these sometime in the future…