Ferryman Li Lian (right) shuttles a commuter and his car across Chaobai River to Tongzhou district, Beijing. Photo: IC
Rising housing prices are driving more working Beijingers farther into the outskirts.
However, drivers living in the commuter town of Yanjiao are shaving time off their hours-long schleps to the capital thanks to an enterprising local and his makeshift ferry.
Li Lian operates a cable ferry that shuttles cars across the Chaobai River, which separates East Beijing's Tongzhou district and surrounding Hebei Province.
One by one, the 69-year-old Li pulls cars, motorbikes and people across the 50-meter ferry point on his plank-covered ferry.
A 90-second trip across the river potentially saves commuters hours on the road.
"It's 10 yuan, but it's not crowded, it's a shortcut and you can avoid rush hour traffic. It's perfect for drivers who need to get to Beijing fast," commuter Wang Bin told Beijing Youth Daily.
Though Li has been operating the ferry at Dianzi village for years, he says business is booming as Beijing's main arteries continue to clog with rush hour traffic.
"This started picking up about five years ago, and more and more drivers came by wanting to cross," Li told the Beijing Youth Daily.
Li deals in volume, explaining he'll ferry as many as 80 cars across a day.
By charging 1 yuan per person, 2 yuan for a motorbike, and 10 yuan for cars, he stands to make up to 3,000 yuan a month.
"I charge based on how hard I have to pull," Li said. "If I've got to pull a car across, that's gonna be a lot of work."