Long holiday tests transport system
Updated: 2012-09-29 20:06
BEIJING - Beijing-based accountant Wang Ping has brought his luggage to his office in the city's Xicheng District early Saturday morning — a working day before Chinese employees nationwide start an eight-day holiday beginning on Sept 30.
Wang has decided to leave for the train station directly after work and head to his hometown in east China's Jiangsu Province in the evening.
The city's metros on Saturday during non-rush hours appear more crowded with people carrying luggage, holiday gifts and exquisitely-packaged mooncakes.
Authorities predict that around 740 million trips will be made by Chinese people during the vacation that combines the National Day Holiday and the Mid-Autumn Festival. Around 660 million trips will be made on roads and waters, averaging 82.5 million trips daily, up 8.8 percent year on year.
Meanwhile, 75.4 million trips, averaging nearly 7 million a day, will be made on railways, which is a common choice for most Chinese people traveling long distance.
Railway authorities expect record-breaking passenger numbers, with up to 9 million predicted take the trains on Oct 1, up 320,000 compared with the travel peak last year.
However, Shanghai-based Yang Mei has decided to abort train travel. Instead, she will drive to the neighboring city of Nanjing with her family for the holiday.
"Round-trips on high-speed trains for the family will cost us 1,000 yuan ($158), so we plan to drive our car because we don't have to pay expressway tolls, and the car is convenient when we arrive in Nanjing," Yang said.
A government policy exempts passenger vehicles (with seven seats and below) from expressway tolls during the eight-day holiday. Analysts said this will boost tourism in popular cities and popular spots. But it also triggers huge worries, with record numbers of trips predicted to cause massive congestion and more road accidents.
Authorities warn of the heavy pressure facing the transport system. "In major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Chengdu, the number of passengers will increase dramatically on both the roads and the rails," said He Jianzhong, spokesman of the Ministry of Transport.
Transport and railway authorities will enhance safety and optimize transport capacity to deal with the rise in the number of trips.
"We will urge local authorities to carry out strict inspections to reduce and prevent incidents, especially long-haul buses," He said.
He added that cities will have 450,000 buses, 9,000 subway trains and more than 1.2 million taxis on hand to cope with the travel pressure. Meanwhile, more than 200 temporary trains will be in use to meet railway passenger demand.