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UPDATED: December 21, 2013 NO. 34 AUGUST 22, 2013
Is Public Transport Squeezed?


Beijing Public Transport Holdings Ltd. is set to push forward its express bus project this September. Differing from ordinary public transport, these bus routes were designed in response to popular demand. Passengers are able to choose their time of travel and reserve seats online. Everyone is ensured a spot and also provided with air conditioners and WIFI, while the non-stop express only utilizes designated bus lanes.

Urban public transport service involves satisfying basic traveling requirements among city-dwellers. However, express buses would mainly serve passengers from relatively remote areas who normally drive their own cars or take taxis to work in downtown areas. Many people are worried that express buses will squeeze limited public transport resources and add to overcrowding on roads.

The new service is hoped to relieve pressure on public transport across Beijing, encouraging more people to practice "green" travel, reduce energy consumption and improve local air quality. But some say express buses also cause pollution, while special treatment for certain groups of people might also cause resentment among those who still need to rely on jam-packed ordinary bus services. The following are excerpts of opinions:


Xu Yunfei (Science Technology Life): In Beijing, many commuters have to bear various hardships and inconvenience during trips between the office and home. It's so crowded in buses and even more so on subways.

Express buses are based on the reasonable arrangement of bus shifts to help commuters enjoy a more convenient journey. There is a relatively stable passenger group who may take express buses to Beijing's Central Business District, Zhongguancun and other commercial centers. With fares at about 15 yuan ($2.38) per head, this service will be welcomed. After all, it would be much cheaper than taxis.

Given Beijing's huge population and congested public transport, express buses can be used to supplement current public transport services.

Nevertheless, we know that passengers who choose to ride express buses remain in the minority, so this kind of service would never become a common mode of transport. Cheap public transport service networks remain the core of urban travel.

Express buses charge much higher fares than common public buses, so it's important to prevent transport companies from expanding this mode of transport, which could lead to higher ticket prices.

Xu Kangming (Beijing Evening News): I think express buses are very useful. In Beijing, public transportation construction stresses major and regular routes too much. However, in such a big city, demand for public transport is quite different from one place to another and thus, it's necessary to develop multi-level transport services that encourage more people to give up driving.

Express buses fit the category of public transport, and thus would be quite reasonable if it were to be subsidized. Passengers who enjoy this special transport service have to pay much higher fares than those using common public buses, and thus the need for subsidies are limited.

Express buses are designed to cope with traffic pressure during peak hours. In terms of price and route planning, the cost of extra buses and drivers are all covered. Just like extra trains during the Spring Festival, these buses would not be used except during peak hours in the morning and at dusk.

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