Metro vending machines oust some stores

METRO officials will add more vending machines and ATMs to the subway system in the coming year to meet the increasing demands and to eliminate potential fire dangers posed by some of the current, smaller subway stores.

The Metro operator intends to sell various kinds of goods, such as drinks, snacks and fruits, from the machines. The plan of selling daily-use medicine via the machines is also under discussion. However, some passengers have expressed concern about the quality and freshness of the food.

Chain stores and big-name restaurants gradually have been replacing small stores at Metro stations, which also has been seen as a way to attract customers and remove small business operators lax in safety management.

The city removed 400 to 500 stores from the subway network at the time of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo for safety concerns. The city’s firefighting department found some of the stores didn’t have sufficient equipment such as extinguishers, making the vending machines an attractive alternative.

Officials said they are working on solutions to the problem of expired food and drinks being sold via the machines.

Pei Zhen, a city lawmaker, said the drinks have been stored in the machine for a long time “and sometimes the food sold at stores is no better.”

The Metro has more than 400 machines at 200-plus stations and plans to introduce another 1,000 as new lines are built and business areas added.

A manager with the Metro asset management company, who declined to be named, said they see it as an opportunity.

“Ideally, we can build vending machine walls instead of setting up a row of stores,” said the manager.

Movie tickets can also be sold via machines, the manager said.

Meanwhile, discounts will be offered at some convenience stores, book stalls and bakery stores at the Metro network until the end of January.

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