Chinese capital Beijing will this year provide subsidies totaling 1.3 billion
yuan (about 166 million U.S. dollars) to bus companies, which are offering
across-the-board discounts to over nine million commuters in the capital,
according to the municipal transportation authority.
The measure will
give public transit a distinct price advantage, encourage people to use the
public transit system and help ease the city's traffic gridlock, said Li
Jianguo, deputy director of the municipal transportation committee.
added that government's total investment in public transit will reach four
billion yuan (about 511 million U.S. dollars) in 2007.
axed bus rates at the beginning of this year, commuters have seen a remarkable
drop in their public transport budgets. With discounts as high as 80 percent, a
bus ticket now sells for only 20 to 60 cents.
According to a survey by
Capital View Research Co. Ltd, 80 percent of the 168 interviewees said they are
more willing to take the bus since the price cut.
But sources at bus
companies said the number of passengers has not increased remarkably in the past
ten days, and a price incentive is only the first step in trying to turn
commuters away from using private cars.
Convenience, punctuality and the
overall quality of the bus service also influence people's decision whether or
not to take buses, said Shi Qixin, an expert in urban transportation planning.
Meanwhile, more bus lanes and transit hubs need to be built to improve
public transit in the city, added Shi.
The city spent 11.67 billion yuan
(about 1.5 billion U.S. dollars) last year on improving and expanding roads,
subways and other road facilities. Investment in Beijing's public transport will
total 71.5 billion yuan (about 9.14 billion U.S. dollars) by 2010.
Although it may take time for the subsidies and investment to pay off,
Beijing's "buses first" policy has become a way of coping with the city's
traffic problems, a major concern with the Olympic Games less than two years
"The policy will incite people to commute by bus, a good, green,
environment-friendly choice," said Ren Hai, director of the Olympics Research
Center under the General Administration of Sport of China.
government statistics, Beijing had 2.87 million motor vehicles at the end of
2006, an increment of 370,000 on the previous year. The figure is expected to
swell by 32 percent to about 3.8 million in 2010.
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