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Sunset Industries' Self-rescue

China's public transport service has launched a wedding car service

By john nashPublished 3 months ago 3 min read

Recently, in many parts of China, a novel service has been introduced - using public buses as wedding vehicles. In other words, public buses are rented out to newlyweds or wedding companies for use as bridal cars.

First of all, let's acknowledge the brilliance of this idea. Public buses are indeed particularly well-suited for use as wedding vehicles. Why? Compared to regular coaches or cars, they have at least three advantages.

First, they offer flexible space. Public buses have fewer seats than coaches, providing more room, and their interior height is much greater than that of standard coaches. This spaciousness is especially convenient for decoration.

Second, public buses have a more atmospheric feel. Many of the bus's natural features are perfectly suited for transformation into wedding vehicles. For example, the bus route number. What was once Route 89 could be changed to Route 999, symbolizing "forever" in Chinese culture, or to Route 520, phonetically representing "I love you" in Chinese. Or even Route 1314, signifying "a lifetime." What other vehicle offers this effect? Another example is the bus stops. What used to be from "Walnut Avenue to Jackson Square" could be changed to "From Meeting and Falling in Love to Growing Old Together" or "From Childhood Friends to Eternal Companions." Think about it, isn't it wonderful?

Third, public buses are more cost-effective. Rest assured, any coach transformed in the above two ways would be much more expensive. Using public buses saves money, maintains prestige, and creates the right atmosphere.

This leads to a question: why have buses, which were operating just fine, suddenly been repurposed as wedding vehicles? Behind this lies a hard truth: many public bus companies in China are facing revenue challenges.

In 2014, the national urban bus passenger volume was 78.2 billion. By 2019, it had fallen to 69.2 billion. And in the first quarter of this year, despite an overall recovery in travel, urban bus passenger volumes fell by another 11.7%. Several factors have contributed to this situation, such as the prevalence of private cars and the rise of cycling.

How much pressure are bus companies under? Let's do the math. Take a bus company in Kaili, Guizhou, for example. It has 330 buses, 309 of which are new energy vehicles. The company employs 590 drivers, with an average age of 42, who are still a decade or two from retirement. The drivers earn about 4,300 yuan a month, and there are also non-driving staff, like cleaners, earning around 3,000 yuan. In total, a company with 330 buses spends about 4 million yuan in wages per month. The daily income per bus is about 800 yuan. What does this mean? This company's losses in the first three quarters exceeded 10 million yuan.

Currently, besides being transformed into wedding vehicles, another popular revenue-generating method for buses is to turn them into mobile vegetable markets.

For example, Beijing Bus Group earlier established several fresh produce stations using retired buses. They were impressively modified, with one side of the bus completely removed to create a spacious sales window, and they partnered with third-party fresh produce businesses to ensure product supply. The greatest advantage of these bus vegetable stations is their flexibility—they can go wherever there is demand. It is reported that Beijing Bus Group plans to set up 300 bus vegetable markets across the city in the next three years.

Whether it's buses plus vegetable stations or buses plus wedding cars, these initiatives maximize the original advantages of buses.

In fact, many traditional industries facing difficulties recently are adopting this method of redeveloping their advantages for self-rescue.

Take newsstands, for example. Since the spread of smartphones, their business has been declining. What to do? You can't rely solely on selling drinks and sausages to solve this problem, can you? This year, newsstands in Shenzhen found a new approach: transforming them into open-air cafes.

Imagine the experience. Buying a coffee, sitting under the small gazebo in front of the newsstand, and casually reading newspapers and magazines - quite pleasant, right?

In another instance, newsstands in Guangzhou collaborated with KFC in September of this year to introduce a K-Coffee newsstand, also serving KFC breakfasts. Similarly, in 2021, Wenzhou Post established its first batch of newsstand cafes, and they are still looking for ways to expand.

Have you noticed? So-called sunset industries aren't outdated because of their products, but rather the lifestyle they served has faded. How to solve this? Clearly, by finding new life scenarios they can serve, these old solutions can address today's new problems.


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