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January 30, 2010

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Lawmakers: Bus, subway fares too expensive for many riders

Looking to give citizens a break, lawmakers at the annual session of the Shanghai People's Congress, the city's top legislative, are asking the government to lower the price of public transportation.

They said Shanghai's buses and Metro lines cost too much -- contrary to the government's "bus first" policy.

"The public transport cost has become one of the heavy burdens shouldered by some citizens, especially those who need to travel a long way between the urban and rural areas every day but don't earn much," said SPC deputy Zhu Ru'an.

"Now that the government pledges to better serve the people, it should consider low-income people first."

With the World Expo about to open, cheap but high-quality public transit should be available to visitors from all over the world, he added.

He suggested the government re-adopt the monthly ticket system. Under that plan, someone who buys a monthly ticket can take any form of public transport without extra charge that month.

Zhu's point was echoed by other deputies.

Shanghai's discounts in public transit, such as the interchange discount, and the free rides enjoyed by people over 70, aren't enough compared with Beijing and Tianjin, they said.

Deputy Tan Xuejun suggested setting a daily cost limit for the citizens, such as 10 yuan. Any transit cost exceeding 10 yuan in a day would be free.

He said the age restriction for free public transport for the elderly could be lowered to 60 or 65.

Tan also suggested a daily travel card for tourists: 20 yuan for 24 hours.

Zhang Lili, a SPC deputy and chairwoman of the Shanghai Women's Federation, advised setting a price limit of 5 yuan on the subways and suburban bus routes, if Shanghai can't do as Beijing, which charges 2 yuan for riding the subway any distance.

As for the monthly ticket idea, Zhu suggested that a ticket valid in the urban city cost 150 yuan (US$22). One for both urban and suburban areas could be 230 yuan.

The monthly ticket system, used by locals for years, was abandoned in 1996 after bus companies turned market-oriented.

The system needs to be restored, Zhu said, because many local people have relocated to suburban areas but still work in the downtown areas. Most of them don't earn much, making buses and subways their only commuting options.

"Some people, whose monthly incomes are just around 1,500 yuan, have to spend more than 20 yuan a day on their travel to work and back home," Zhu said.

"In this way, some of the people prefer to stay home and live on the government's living allowances, because their incomes earned from hard work won't be much more, or even less than the allowances if the traffic cost is deducted."


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