Chinese Vice Minister of Communications Xu Zuyuan on Tuesday voiced his support for a freeze on road and waterway transport fares during the Spring Festival travel season.
Xu was speaking at a press conference on waterway transport safety, when he was asked to comment on the announcement by the Ministry of Railways that rail fare rises during the Spring Festival will be scrapped.
But Xu said the price-setting mechanism for road transport differs from that of railway, with the former set by local price-setting bureaus and communications sections, while the latter was set by the central government.
Xu added that ticket prices for waterway transport have been opened to the market completely, making it difficult for the government to influence prices directly.
Despite the difficulties, Xu said the ministry still tries to maintain stable travel prices during peak travel periods, and expressed the hope that local communications departments coordinate with the local price-setting bureaus to benefit travelers.
He said the Ministry of Communications has started to discuss with government departments possible policies and measures to keep transport fares stable.
The National Development and Reform Commission predicted that 2.17 billion journeys would be made during the 40-day travel peak from Feb. 3 to March 14, up 4.9 percent from last year.
A record 155 million passengers are expected to travel by train, up 4.3 percent; 1.97 billion will travel by road, up five percent; 28.41 million will travel by water, up two percent; and about 19.3 million will fly, up 9.4 percent.
The Ministry of Railways announced on Jan. 10 that railway ticket prices would not be raised during the Spring Festival period this year. The news has been widely welcomed by the public.