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Congestion dogs Chinese travellers
Publication Date : 08-10-2012
Few chances for paid leave from workplace result in crowded roads
China's traffic networks witnessed more congestion yesterday, the last day of the eight-day holiday that took in both the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday.
The heavy traffic started at about 2 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Ministry of Transport.
Because there are only two long holidays in China and paid leave is not well implemented by most employers, people have few chances to travel and many use the long holidays to sightsee or visit family.
The country's 119 major scenic spots received 34.25 million visitors over the eight-day holiday, up 21 per cent from the same period last year. Tourist spending surged by nearly a quarter from last year, up to 1.77 billion yuan (US$278 million), the National Tourism Administration said yesterday.
A new policy making most expressways toll free over the holiday period for passenger cars with fewer than seven seats resulted in heavier than usual traffic over the holiday period.
From Saturday afternoon roads and expressways leading to big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan, began to see heavy traffic.
As many as 81 million road journeys were made on Saturday, a 7.6 per cent increase from the same day last year.
A massive 1.8 million journeys were taken on waterways on Saturday, 11.2 per cent more than on the same day last year, according to the ministry.
The Ministry of Transport said yesterday's road traffic peak started at about 10 a.m. and would continue late into the night.
Traffic authorities in Beijing estimated more than 1.7 million cars would return to Beijing yesterday, 40 per cent more than in the same period last year.
On the Zhuji section of the Zhuji-Yongjia highway in Zhejiang province, traffic police were forced by severe congestion to limit the number of cars allowed on the road yesterday afternoon.
The Jinzhong section of the Erenhot-Guangzhou highway in Shanxi province was partly closed yesterday evening due to traffic accidents.
The rail network was also crowded.
In Northwest China's Gansu province, railway officials said they were handling a new peak that started on Saturday and is expected to last several days. Trains to major cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, were very crowded, the Lanzhou railway bureau said.
Tickets for trains from Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, to Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Zhengzhou and Guangzhou are sold out. No more tickets for those trains will be available until Thursday, the bureau said.
The railway station in Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province, said it served more than 80,000 passengers yesterday.
At Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Southwest China's Sichuan province, there were no tickets left on yesterday flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan. The airport authority said more tickets will not be available until tomorrow.
In Guangzhou, nearly 145,000 passengers arrived at, or departed from, the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport yesterday, the airport said.
Authorities used a variety of methods to keep commuters updated.
The Beijing Traffic Management Bureau launched a live map online. The map was updated every two minutes to display the situation on roads and expressways in the city.
In Shanghai, live updates of traffic information were posted on the city government's micro blog.
In East China's Fujian province, all expressway workers were deployed to guide vehicles and emergency-response staff members were kept on 24-hour duty.
While some drivers were racing against the clock to take advantage of the last hours of the toll-free policy for expressways and bridges, which ended at midnight, drivers using the Zhengzhou Yellow River Highway Bridge in Henan province were told yesterday that all tolls on the bridge would be abolished today. The Henan Provincial Transport Department announced the decision yesterday, responding to proposals made by local legislators and political advisers that the bridge should be toll free.
Wang Hongyi in Shanghai contributed to this story.