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Rapid transit beats Shenyang metro
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-27 03:10

Shenyang, the capital city of Northeast China's Liaoning Province is planning to turn to a bus-rapid-transit (BRT) system after a costly proposed subway project has remained stalled for 10 years, leading government officials say.

"There are many successful examples of BRT for us to follow. This is also the first step for Shenyang to become a modern international metropolis, "Shenyang's Mayor Chen Zhenggao said at a rapid transit forum held last Tuesday.

It was the second such meeting this year.

The Shenyang Construction commission organized the first such conference in March. Sources close to the commission said local government may choose the lower-cost but higher-quality ground public transport services rather than the costly underground.

Shenyang first proposed building a metro in the early 1960s. It nearly succeeded in 1993 but the huge investment that would have been required put a stop to the plan.

"The minimum cost of a proposed Shenyang subway is around 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion), which is equal to the city's annual fiscal revenue," said a senior official surnamed Zhang from the Shenyang Municipal Planning and Development Commission.

Rapid transit, however, could provide a rather realistic way out for Shenyang since it accounts for a mere 5 per cent of the metro project's cost, Zhang said.

Last year, the city pumped in more than 1 billion yuan (US$120 million) for road construction, renovation and repairs, one-10th its total fiscal revenues.

According to the Shenyang Statistics Bureau, the city was home to more than 6.89 million residents and about 460,000 vehicles by the end of last year. In five years, the current transportation network will not meet the demands of local traffic if the local government fails to take effective measures.

Many people have already voiced complaints about traffic jams. The everyday commuting travel turns into an awful experience for passengers during rush hours.

"It is just a fight to get on the bus every day," said Wu Yao from a joint venture in Shenyang.

"Even though it is only 20 minutes' ride to the office, I have to wait about an hour in advance as these buses are so crowded."

"We should find out a new way for dealing with the congestion. I believe BRT is a good choice and Shenyang is suitable for this programme," said Yang Lifeng, an expert from Shanghai Transportation Planning Research Institute.

Shenyang needs such a public transport system, which is speedy, comfortable and cost saving, said Yang.

"BRT would significantly raise the city's public transportation volume," Yang added.

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