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Pay Less to Catch a Bus
    2006-12-31 14:38:41     CRIENGLISH.com
More than fifty buses in Beijing have started offering discount fares as part of the city's new year resolution to overhaul its public transport system.

All buses in the city will follow suit from the first day of the New Year.

Wang Jing has more.

Catching a bus in Beijing has suddenly become much cheaper, thanks to the new transport IC cards that cut the fares by up to 60 percent.

From the start of next year, bus rides less than 10 kilometers will cost just 40 cents, down from one yuan. Student fares will be cut by 80 percent and air-conditioned buses will cost the same as normal vehicles.

Every cent spent on transport counts in a city like Beijing, with an urban area that stretches over 730 square kilometers. The fare cuts are expected to save the city's residents several dozen yuan a month.

Passengers are excited about the change.

I think it is a good move. There is no need to use the monthly pass now.

It cost me 1.6 yuan to commute everyday, but today it's only 80 cents.

Beijing's municipal government earlier announced it will increase its public transport budget to 4 billion yuan, or 513 million US dollars, next year.

They aim to encourage more people to take public transport and alleviate the heavy traffic loads on the road.

And one conductor told us she's already seen more people catching buses.
 
"More people are using their IC cards, and there's at least more than one third our normal amount of passengers travelling today."

The first 50 buses have offered their fare cuts for two days. Next week, all 16,000 buses in the city will follow suit.

But lower fares have a limited appeal to commuters who are already tired of overcrowded buses with unpredictable running times.

Shi Jing is from the Transportation Research Institute at Tsinghua University.

He says decreasing bus fares is not a long-term solution.

I think it is a temporary solution to cut bus fares. It is because the subway system is not developed.

For China Drive, I'm Wang Jing.
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