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China Daily Website

Mixed blessing in road trip

Updated: 2012-09-27 15:59
( China Daily)

Will the lifting of toll fees for passenger vehicles with seven seats or less during the coming National Day holiday really be a policy that pleases the majority of holidaymakers as intended?

Intuitively it would seem yes for those undertaking a driving trip during the holiday from Sept 30 to Oct 7, as toll-free driving on expressways will reduce traveling expenses by about 40 percent or even more.

That explains why the car rental business has witnessed a boom and why a survey in North China's Hebei province found that 70 percent of residents who have their own cars intend to travel in them during the holidays.

The cost of renting a car during the holidays has risen sharply and many agencies have already rented out all their cars.

With the number of private cars exceeding 43 million by the end of 2011, and more than 144 million residents possessing an automobile driving license, it has been predicted that people will make about 345 million road trips during the eight days of the holiday, up more than 15 percent over the same period of last year.

With that many cars on the roads there is enough reason to expect that driving during the holidays will be a less than happy experience for many.

The central government has required all local governments to make explicit rules for the lifting of tolls and they are also required to make contingency plans for the management of highways and tourist destinations.

Although tollgates will not charge passing cars, more traffic police will have to get ready to deal with subsequent traffic jams and to maintain order along the expressways and in areas approaching the tollgates in particular. Facilities and staff members must be in place to handle traffic accidents or other contingencies.

Preparations will also have to be made to provide enough parking spaces in service areas and in tourist destinations to ensure tempers do not fray and to prevent drivers from being ripped off at parking lots.

Local governments need to make their plans in as much detail as possible, taking into consideration all situations. The service they provide will decide whether holidaymakers driving by themselves will have a pleasant trip.