A sign saying "free of charge" is seen on
a bus in Chengdu on Oct. 10, 2012. A total of 44 lines of buses in
Chengdu will be free of charge from Oct. 10, 2012 to June 30, 2013.
A free bus fare policy has been implemented in Chengdu, capital city of
Southwestern China’s Sichuan Province, on the 10th October, which has
triggered a heated discussion in Xiamen. Many citizens have discussed
whether Xiamen should have such a policy, reported Strait Herald.
Some citizens tweeted on Sina Weibo, the popular
microblogging platform in China, advising the authorities to adopt a
similar policy to further encourage the use of public transport in
Xiamen, while most citizens said they are against the plan, citing the
‘chaotic’ public transport system in Chengdu after the policy was
implemented there. They also pointed out that the policy was introduced
concurrently with a strict restriction on private cars to alleviate
Xinhua news agency reported that the policy drew
larger-than-ever crowds to bus and metro stations, and many Chengdu
citizens complained they could not catch a bus.
“Bus fares are already very cheap in Xiamen, and a
free bus fare policy won’t increase its competitiveness against private
cars,” said a private car owner in Xiamen. “Many private car owners will
still choose to drive their cars because it’s more convenient and they
can get direct access to their destination.”
Zhu Jianghuai, a member of the Standing Committee of
the Municipal People's Congress, believed that a free bus transfer
policy will be more beneficial than a free bus fare policy.
“We can improve our public transport system by
adding bus shuttles, opening more bus routes, and setting up more bus
stops especially in the mainland districts,” Zhu said.
Relevant departments have said they will keep an eye
on the results of the free bus fare policy in Chengdu and continue to
improve the public transport services in Xiamen.