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New shuttle plan gets mixed reviews

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

08:26, July 18, 2013

A woman gets on a shuttle bus at the Guomao Central Business District heading to the Tiantongyuan area in northern Beijing. The community worked with Beijing Public Transport Holdings to open three shuttle bus lines in 2011 that now carry 500 commuters a day. (Wang Zhenlong / for China Daily)

Customized shuttle services for commuters in Beijing will be running by the end of September and are receiving mixed responses.

More than 10,000 residents have participated in a survey on travel needs since July 14 when it went live on the public transportation operator's website,

Beijing Public Transport Holdings has set up a charging standard based on the responses to the survey, with the price for a shuttle bus no more than 30 percent of the cost of using a private car and 15 percent of taxi fares.

Liang Shuang, who lives in Tongzhou new town and works near Chaoyangmen, said the operation of a shuttle bus would make a great difference to her daily commute.

"It takes me more than two hours on the subway every day and some 80 yuan ($13) on a single trip for a taxi," she said. "A customized shuttle bus would greatly reduce the time and save expense."

A distance of 20 kilometers, for example, would cost 15 yuan on a shuttle bus, while a private car might cost 45 yuan, taking into consideration fuel costs, parking fees and tolls. The same trip in a taxi would cost about 100 yuan and increase traffic congestion, the State-owned company said.

The shuttle bus service is meant to promote the use of public transportation and reduce carbon emissions, and will cost no more than an ordinary city bus, it said.

Most of the demand comes from large communities and workplaces, including the Guomao Central Business District; Yizhuang Culture Park in southeastern Beijing; Zhongguancun, a technology hub in the northwestern part of the capital; and Beijing Financial Street.

Detailed information on the shuttle buses, including pickup times and stops along the routes, will be arranged according to travel requirements and commuter flow, the company said.

The shuttle buses would be equipped with air conditioning and WiFi, and ensure a seat for every commuter.

Commuters will be able to make reservations and pay through the customized bus platform, the company said.

But some commuters said the customized shuttle service is not their best option.

"I'm not optimistic about the traffic on the roads during the morning rush. It would be safer to take the subway," said Li Jingdong, 39, a shop attendant at Yintai Mall in the Guomao area, who has an hour-long commute in the morning.

"If I'm the last one to get off the bus, my time would be wasted while the bus delivers others to various destinations," she said.

Cao Chunli, 30, a white-collar employee who drives 1.5 hours every morning from the Huilongguan community to the Guomao area, said she doubted whether this new service meets the requirements of people who have flexible office hours.

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