Comparison of System Characteristics of the Guangzhou Water Transit System with Its International Peers

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - ferry, infrastructure - vehicle, economics - subsidy, place - asia, place - australasia, place - north america, place - urban, planning - route design, planning - service improvement, land use - planning


Guangzhou, Water Transit, subsidy


With ports having moved downriver, redevelopment of central city areas and waterfronts has transformed the urban centres and created new economic bases for once industrial cities. Water transit systems, such as New York’s East River and City-Wide Ferry services and Gothenburg’s harbor ferries, are being installed by economic development agencies as a device to stimulate further land development, provide tourism opportunities, and promote a new social engagement with the river. Guangzhou’s water transit system is the third largest in Asia by passenger volume, behind only Bangkok and Sydney. This paper describes the Guangzhou system in depth, comparing its operations favourably with the world’s leading water transit systems. Comparisons are made in vessel design, route design, terminals, operations, and fares. The Guangzhou case is distinctive, with a mixture of cross-river and parallel routes, and an especially unique approach to subsidy that may be an option for North American cities considering water transit. Opportunities to further improve the system in line with international trends are identified, as well as a research agenda to further the knowledge of water transit operations and regulation generally.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.