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Highway travel free in some regions for holiday

By Jin Jianyu (Global Times)

10:10, January 21, 2012

Highways in several cities in at least seven provinces and regions are expected to be free of charge this year around Chinese Lunar New Year, which analysts believe will only effectively smooth traffic congestion if the initiative is followed throughout the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush.

Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi, Jiujiang of Jiangxi Province, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, will temporarily stop enforcing highway tolls either throughout the entire region or in some areas for about one or two days before and after January 23, the Chinese Lunar New Year this year, according to local highway watchdogs.

It is not the first effort made by local authorities to alleviate the Spring Festival's peak travel rush. Henan, for example, has implemented the measure for 12 consecutive years, according to media report.

An employee, who asked to remain anonymous, from the publicity office of the Ministry of Transport, told the Global Times yesterday that there is no official document that regulates highways nationwide should be free of charge during the Spring Festival this year.

"Whether the highway will be toll free during the Spring Festival depends on the provincial government," he said.

"I felt happier on my way home for my family reunion last year when I learned the highway was free," a Hebei resident surnamed Zhao, who drove home a day before China's Lunar New Year last year, told the Global Times.


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