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UPDATED: February 4, 2013 NO. 6 FEBRUARY 7, 2013
Should Standing Tickets Be Full Price?


With the Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, fast approaching this February 10, almost half the country's population finds itself in the surge of mass migration. Train tickets, as in the past, are in high demand. Amid the difficulty of buying a ticket home, calls for price reductions of standing-room-only purchases have increased. Every year, railway authorities sell a large amount of standing tickets, but such tickets sell at the same rate as those for seats, which some think is unfair to standing ticket buyers.

This is not the first time that the public has expressed dissatisfaction over train ticket prices, but the official response is not encouraging. It is argued that cutting rates would encourage more people to travel by train, causing overload and subsequent danger. Others worry that slashing prices might make even standing tickets tough to come by. The following are excerpts of opinions:

Zhao Chali (www.rednet.cn): Soft berths are more expensive than hard sleepers, which in turn are more costly compared to hard seats. Prices obviously depend on service quality. However, why must standing passengers pay the same as those who enjoy the privilege of sitting down? There is no evidence to support the current norm.

Perhaps railway authorities find it difficult to deal with such a large number of passengers. Charging the same rates might make it easier. As with subways and cinemas, no matter which seats you choose, everyone pays the same, mostly to cut down on operation costs.

Nevertheless, we all know there are discounts associated with air travel, so why not offer the same for standing tickets on trains?

Fang Rong (Oriental Morning Post): The same price should ensure the same service. Nowadays, train tickets can be bought via electronic platforms, which makes it easy to find an empty seat. When a passenger gets off, his or her seat could go to someone who has been standing, narrowing the price gap. To charge standing passengers the same from the very start of a journey damages the rights and interests of travelers.

Perhaps standing-room-only tickets could be discounted by around 20 percent. Depending on the distance covered, rates could be even further dropped.

Guo Xiang (Oriental Morning Post): Since standing and seated passengers receive a totally different service, it's all right for them to pay different prices. Standing tickets alone should also be priced at various rates. It's terribly uncomfortable to stand for long periods of time. Offering discounts could make unpleasant journeys more bearable.

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