left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Toll-free holiday for the good of people

Updated: 2012-09-30 09:31
( Xinhua)

BEIJING - For the first time in decades, Chinese drivers will enjoy a toll-free journey home during the upcoming eight-day holiday, which begins on Sunday.

An 820-km drive from Beijing to the coastal city of Dalian takes travelers through four toll stations and costs a total of 380 yuan ($60) in toll fees, while a sleeper train is just 240 yuan.

Toll-free holiday for the good of people

A car driver shows a pass card distributed by a toll station in Beijing early on Sunday. [Photo/Xinhua]

Amid growing calls, the State Council, or China's cabinet, issued a toll-free road policy in August, allowing passenger cars with seven seats or less to travel for free on toll roads during four major holidays. The first toll-free holiday will be the upcoming eight-day Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday.

The removal of toll fees will not only make travel cheaper and more convenient, but will also boost the service industry, as people will spend more money on related services, such as food and accommodation.

Hu Fangjun, an expert from the China Academy of Transportation Sciences, said companies funded by the toll fees will lose about 20 billion yuan each year throughout the four extended holidays due to the waiving of the fees.

However, new revenues derived from hefty spending during the longest holiday season will likely compensate for the losses. The companies that run the toll booths are largely state-owned, while the sector has been named as one of the most profitable in China.

Expensive toll fees also drive up logistics costs, which can affect the prices of a wide range of commodities, forcing consumers to foot the bill in the end.

Roads are public infrastructure. Every citizen has the right to be on the road. The waiving of toll fees during holidays will give the roads back to the public.

The exemption of toll fees is also a way of returning wealth to the people, which will eventually boost the public's trust toward the government.

China's financial revenues have enjoyed rapid growth for decades. The government is capable of offering more welfare to its people. A toll-free holiday is not a gift from the government, but something it should do now and continue to do in the future.