Public buses should be free to ride, said a representative at the Sichuan Provincial People's Congress yesterday.
"Implementing free public buses within the city will reduce basic operation costs," said representative Zhai Feng. Zhai argued that free city buses would reduce traffic congestion as well as air and noise pollution. Currently, says Zhai, bus trips account for only 20 percent of trips made in Chengdu.
Zhai suggested a step-by-step implementation of a free-bus scheme, starting with central and commercial areas as well as schools and workplaces. The system would be paid for by government funding, corporate sponsors, and advertising.
More Free Rental Bikes
It's been a rough start for the public bicycle system that was implemented in Chengdu's Jinniu District late last year. After media reports of unkempt bicycle-rental stations, damaged bicycle fittings, and sleeping attendants (are we in Sichuan? Or are we in Sichuan?) in late December, spokespeople for sponsors Forever Bicycle Company, contended that the number of stations where residents could register for rental cards was too low, resulting in low use of the bicycles, and that the company would address this problem.
The Jinniu District bicycle-rental system demonstrated and explained.
The initial 300 bicycles spread out over 18 rental stations sounded like a good idea—except that there were only two places where residents could obtain the cards necessary to use a bicycle. On top of that, photos of bicycles missing parts circulated around the Internet, drawing criticism from residents.
This week, the bikes were in the news again—because despite the vandalism, Forever says that after Spring Festival, they will set up more rental stations in the Jinjiang, Wuhou, and Jinniu Districts, adding 10,000 bicycles to the existing fleet of 400 currently servicing residents of the Jinniu and Gaoxin Districts.
Metro Line 2 West Extension
Construction kicked off this week on the westward extension of Chengdu Metro Line 2. The track is expected to be in the test-run phase by the end of 2012.
The 7-km extension will cover six stops, one of which will be above ground, and includes 1.58 km of elevated track. The train will reduce travel time from the western suburbs of Chengdu into the city center to under 30 minutes.
Train to Deyang to Open Next Year
The Chengdu-Mianyang-Le Shan railway will open next year, it was announced, reducing travel time between Deyang and Chengdu to 30 minutes.