SHANGHAI: The municipal government is earmarking 110 billion yuan ($14.6 billion) to improve its public transportation system, reduce the price of tickets and ease congestion.
The initiative aims to lure an extra 5 million people to use public transport by 2009, which will bring the city broadly in line with other major metropolitan areas around the world.
Currently, more than 12 million people use public transport daily in Shanghai, including taking buses, trolley buses, the subway or taxis, according to the city's transportation administration.
This accounts for 24 percent of the total traffic volume, said Huang Xiaoyong, an official with the local traffic administration. Other modes of transport include bicycles, motorcycles and cars.
"The percentage [using public transport] should be raised from the current 24 percent to 33 percent by 2009, nearer to the 36 percent average in developed countries," according to a recent directive on developing the city's public transportation system.
"That means we will have to attract 5 million more people to use public transport every day," Huang said.
Among the 12 million people using public transport, 7.5 million take buses and trolley buses every day, or 61 percent of the public transport load. About 1.8 million passengers use the metro, accounting for 15 percent. There were nearly 3 million rides in taxis daily, or 24 percent.
An increase in public transportation is central to the city's development plan.
While experts applauded the city's decision they also called for the introduction of innovative public transport solutions.
Xia Liqing, a former director of the local urban planning bureau, said improvements in public transportation should be based on improved planning.
"Better urban planning will ensure passengers can quickly transfer from the metro to buses," Xia said.
Xia said bus drivers should be paid more and called for subsidies payable to public transportation companies, which could suffer economic losses if tickets were made cheaper.
Lu Ximing, director of the Institute of Comprehensive Study on Public Transport said: "Among the 60 transport hubs, those in suburban areas are most important. Improving them will increase the average speed of the public transport network covering the whole city."
Source: China Daily