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Beijing gov't mulls subway price hike
Published on: 2010-06-09
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BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Beijing municipal government is studying a proposal from the city's political advisers to raise subway ticket prices in a bid to reduce congestion.

The annual session of the Beijing committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, held in January, saw advisers raise a series of proposals of which 40 related to public transportation.

The proposals were then passed to related departments, where they were studied and discussed. Many are now being published for public inspection.

One proposal asked the government to raise the ticket price to as high as 6 yuan during rush hour periods.

Other subway proposals included installing screen doors along old subway lines 1, 2, and 13, and improving wheelchair access.

The existing nine subway lines transport more than 5.2 million passengers every day, making it the busiest subway system in China.

However, Beijing Development and Reform Commission, which regulates prices, said the government has no plan to raise the subway ticket price.

"Subway tickets are priced by the municipal government and must stay relatively stable," said Lu Yingchuan, vice-director of the commission.

"In order to change the price, we need to go through a series of processes, such as filing an application and holding a hearing."

"Since any subway price adjustment affects millions of people, we have to be extremely cautious," Lu said.

Ou Guoli, a professor in the School of Economics and Management at Beijing Jiaotong University, has undertaken research on public transportation for more than 10 years.

Ou told METRO that a "price hike" is just a personal proposal from a single CPPCC member. He added that other proposals followed the same approach - to limit subway use - but from a different angle.

"Many citizens use the subway, which makes them an easy target for terrorists," Ou said.

"Some proposals suggest raising the subway ticket price to redirect crowds during rush hours toward buses and other forms of public transport."

Even though the price hike is just a proposal, Mao Chao, a student from Peking University, responded angrily to the news.

"If the price is raised, many people might choose to drive around the city instead and we would never achieve the 'low-carbon' goal," Mao said.

"Most of us that take the subway certainly aren't rich, so why are they trying to exploit the poor?" Mao asked.

Beijing subway system has adopted a fixed rate of 2 yuan for all journeys since 2007.

"It is virtually the cheapest in the world," Ou said.

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