Beijing considers subway price hike

By Chen Ximeng Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-16 1:08:01

Commuters in Beijing have reacted with dismay on Sunday to proposals to raise subway fares during the capital's notoriously crowded rush hours in a bid to ease congestion.

Currently only priced at 2 yuan ($0.3) for unlimited travel, the cheapest in the nation, the system is heavily subsidized. Transportation experts have said an increase in fares is sensible.

Beijing municipal government issued a work draft Friday indicating a rush hour price hike is on the cards to aid peak-time passenger flows. A hearing will be held to discuss price adjustment plans, the Beijing News reported.

A poll on showed that 61.3 percent of the 15,187 respondents opposed the price hike, with 34.8 percent agreeing with it as of press time.

Beijing resident Liao Zhengang, a lawyer who commutes by subway, does not believe that raising prices will solve the overcrowding on the system.

"The line is packed every day. I can't even squeeze into the carriage," said Liao.

"Perhaps people who can't afford the higher fares will take the bus instead, but that will be a small proportion." However, he said that most commuters would not have that option.  

Beijing Subway Company, which operates 14 out of the city's 17 lines, said on its Weibo account in July that raising fares would not have any great influence on passenger flow. 

Most Net users said that it is the government's responsibility to provide cheap and convenient public transportation and the price hike will increase their pressure. Some mentioned the financial burden of the current pricing system.

Gao Yang, a CPPCC Beijing Municipal Committee member, said that the subway company suffers a loss of 5 yuan for every ticket and this figure increases every year, the Beijing News reported.

Data from Beijing bureau of finance showed that 5 billion yuan was allocated to subsidize subway fares in 2012.

Cheng Shidong, a scholar at the Institute of Comprehensive Transportation with the National Development and Reform Commission, said that a price adjustment makes common sense.

"The low prices are out of pace with the growth in people's income," he said.

Other cities in China, including Shanghai, have set subway fares based on the distance people travel. Beijing's flat fare was lowered from 3 yuan and 5 yuan to 2 yuan in 2007.

In addition to pricing, the draft also highlighted security improvements. In future, passengers, as well as their luggage, will have to go through an airport-style security check, in line with that already carried out at the two stations near Tiananmen Square.

It is normal for the system to carry over 10 million passengers daily, according to Beijing Subway Company figures.

Posted in: Society, Metro Beijing

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