China / Hot Issues

Toll-free roads to take Chinese home this Spring Festival

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-11-23 03:31

BEIJING - In two-and-a-half months, Chinese people will celebrate the Spring Festival, China's most important traditional festival for family reunions and a time when most people make homebound trips.

Chinese car-owners may find this year's trip home more pleasant than before, as the government has vowed to continue to implement a toll-free policy for passenger cars and urged local authorities to ensure that trips home are safe, smooth and convenient during week-long holiday.

He Jianzhong, spokesman for the Ministry of Transport, told a press conference here on Thursday that local authorities should build on the experiences drawn from the policy's first implementation during the National Day holiday in October.

This August, China's State Council approved the program to lift road tolls for passenger cars taking highways during major Chinese holidays.

Passenger cars with seven seats or less and motorcycles will get a free pass through toll roads, bridges and tunnels during the Spring Festival, Tomb-Sweeping Day, Labor Day and National Day holidays, according to the program.

During the eight-day National Day holiday from September 30 to October 7, the toll-free policy attracted more drivers to hit the road and thus, traffic jams were common on freeways around the country.

To tackle these problems, local authorities and transport staff came up many good practices to accelerate passes through toll collection point and make the trips smooth, according to He.

"The effective measures have laid a good foundation for the work of safeguarding the toll-free travels of small passenger cars during major holidays," he said.

He said that the country will continue to implement the toll-free policies during the upcoming Spring Festival, and it will do an even better job to satisfy those taking advantage of the policy.

Local authorities should issue concrete measures in implementing the policy, including traffic control in toll collection areas, signs to guide traffic and the dissemination of traffic information, he said.

To make vehicle passes convenient, smooth and efficient, each province or city can decide on their own methods of toll collection management according to the respective scales of road networks and traffic conditions, he said.

During the early days of the October holiday, toll collections on freeways chose to stop each car to give each driver a toll card just like on ordinary days, which slowed down traffic and caused many congestions.

Later, the Ministry of Transport ordered freeway toll collections to grant direct passes for qualified passenger vehicles starting from October 4 to speed up the process.

He said local governments should also improve information services to guide drivers' choices of traveling time and routes, and intensify supervision on the situations of road networks to take effective measures against possible emergencies.

As the Spring Festival falls in winter, the country's transportation system will also face tough challenges from cold weather, especially ice and snow on roads.

He urged local authorities to make joints efforts with the country's meteorological administration to fully understand forecasts on weather conditions and provide drivers with necessary weather information.

They should also make full preparations for cold weather, including obtaining equipment for clearing ice and snow from roads, ensuring the sound management of emergency response teams and constructing emergency passes, the spokesman said.

The upcoming Spring Festival falls on February 10, 2013 and will be marked by a seven-day national holiday.

Hot Topics