Shuttle service to offer more options

Updated: 2013-09-02 08:45

By Jin Haixing (China Daily)

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Commuters in Beijing now have another option to avoid crowded subway cars and buses on work days - a customized shuttle service.

Beijing Public Transport Holdings, the operator of the customized shuttle bus, released bus routes and prices on Sunday, calling for passengers to book seats.

It released 62 bus routes for 31 destinations, with 168 bus stops, according to a statement provided to China Daily.

The State-owned company said the routes were mapped out according to a survey on customized shuttle buses since July 15, which received 160,000 visits and was answered by more than 70,000 people.

Residents in the capital can search for details on the bus routes and prices on the website or by calling the company's hotline at 96166.

Shuttle service to offer more options

To book and pay for a seat, commuters are required to order through the online platform.

Once 50 percent of seats for a route are booked, the route will begin operation within one week, the BPT said.

The shuttle bus service is aimed at promoting the use of public transportation and reducing carbon emissions, and the 168 bus stops will benefit commuters in nearly 100 communities along the routes, according to the statement.

The first batch of the customized shuttle buses are expected to be in operation this month, as part of measures by Beijing to address its traffic jam problem, especially in September when traffic is the heaviest.

Most of the bus routes are designed to pass large communities and workplaces.

Among the 62 routes, 13 are designed to meet the demand of residents living in large communities in eastern Beijing such as Tongzhou district and Yanjiao in nearby Hebei province.

The shuttle buses will be equipped with air conditioning and WiFi, and ensure a seat for every commuter.

The shuttle bus is a good way to deal with the traffic congestion problem because it could attract private car users to its personalized services, said Xu Kangming, a transport expert and the founder of 3E Transportation Systems.

Xu said the current ground transportation system has many disadvantages, such as an incomplete network, and the customized shuttle bus system will be an important supplement that could provide multiple choices for commuters.

The price for the shuttle bus is lower than for private cars or taxis. A round trip of 20 kilometers, for example, will cost 15 yuan ($2.50) on a shuttle bus, while a private car might cost 45 yuan and the same trip in a taxi would cost about 100 yuan.

As of 3 pm on Sunday, 174 people had registered on the platform and 40 had booked seats for the shuttle bus routes, said Ma Shuo, a spokesman for BPT.

The BPT will further adjust the routes based on booking statistics and a survey of passenger demand, Ma said.

However, some long-distance commuters said the prices were too high.

"The price from Yanjiao to Zhongguancun is too expensive," said Liu, a software development employee in Zhongguancun, a technology hub in the northwest of the capital.

Liu, 33, said he lives in Yanjiao, in Hebei province, east of Beijing, and using public transport is a bad experience for the huge number of commuters in Yanjiao.

The customized shuttle bus plan had given him hope, but he decided not to use it because of the cost: it would cost him 1,400 yuan a month to take the service between Yanjiao and his workplace.

He has decided instead to commute with other people sharing a private car, which will only cost him about 700 yuan a month.