Bots have made the world’s largest annual human migration much more expensive

Quartz

Each winter in China, more than 220 million people board trains to return home for Spring Festival (the Chinese New Year, which is on Jan. 31 this year). It’s the biggest single human migration on earth. Despite the billions of dollars the government has spent on its railways, trains only have the capacity to handle 10% of the travelers. Tickets are harder to get and more expensive each year.

This year those left ticketless will likely have scalper bots to thank for it.

When tickets for Chinese New Year Eve go on sale on Jan. 11 on 12306.cn, the government’s official website for train tickets, customers will have to compete with scalpers who make bulk purchases to buy up tickets. Since tickets for mid-January went on sale in late December (link in Chinese), a single scalper could buy 1,245 tickets within 10 minutes (link in Chinese). Tickets for most routes, which are…

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