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Drivers welcome park-and-ride lots

SHANGHAI'S first park-and-ride scheme received a warm welcome by local commuters yesterday.

Two parking lots at Metro Line 2's Songhong Road Station and Line 1's Jinjiang Amusement Park Station officially opened for business yesterday, offering cheap parking for drivers who then take the Metro.

A total of 362 car spaces are available in the park-and-ride scheme - 292 spaces at the Songhong Road lot and 70 spaces at the Jinjiang Amusement Park Station.

At the six-story Songhong Road parking lot, 139 spaces had been occupied by yesterday afternoon and many of the users were those leaving their cars to take the Metro during the morning rush hour, the parking lot management said.

The two lots opened for a trial run on Monday but had only a few takers. Word soon spread, however, and they were much busier yesterday.

Qian Haifeng was delighted by the new facility on Songhong Road Station.

"I watched the evening news yesterday and drove my car here this morning," he said.

"I used to park my car at friends' places whenever possible to save cost as it's expensive to park at most downtown lots," Qian said.

He said the new scheme would save on gas bills and time spent sitting on congested downtown roads.

More facilities

However, Qian, who works in the suburbs, doesn't expect to benefit from the scheme on a regular basis as there are no such facilities on his regular route to work.

The transport authorities say they are determined to open more park-and-ride facilities across the city.

But Li Zhengwu, director of Shanghai Parking Industry Association, said yesterday that the local traffic authorities were moving too slowly.

Li, who researches urban parking solutions and advises the transport authorities, said the 300-plus Metro parking spaces would not have much effect on relieving congestion on the roads.

Li said future park-and-ride lots should incorporate commercial functions such as car washing and vending machine areas and their operation could be outsourced to private companies.

Park-and-ride users are charged 10 yuan (US$1.46) to park between 5:30am to 11:30pm. Users must swipe their public transit card at the entrance to the lot.

The billing terminal is connected to the Metro ticketing system, which ensures that drivers who don't use the Metro can't receive the discount when they return for their cars.

Non park-and-ride users are charged 5 yuan per hour with a maximum charge set at 40 yuan per day.


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