Car­pools gain pop­u­lar­ity for Spring Fes­ti­val trips

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By PENG YINING in Bei­jing pengyin­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Car­pool­ing ser­vices are be­com­ing pop­u­lar in China for peo­ple go­ing home dur­ing the an­nual Spring Fes­ti­val travel rush.

More than 7,000 re­sults were found for “Spring Fes­ti­val” and “car­pool” on 58.com, China’s equiv­a­lent of Craigslist, where peo­ple are of­fer­ing or look­ing for spare seats to get home in­stead of tak­ing over­crowded pub­lic trans­porta­tion.

Jiang Dan, a 30-year-old fur­ni­ture de­signer in Bei­jing, of­fered two seats in his sport util­ity ve­hi­cle for a trip to his home­town Xi’an, Shaanxi prov­ince. On a clas­si­fied ad­ver­tis­ing web­site, he was charg­ing 300 yuan ($46) for each seat, while the cheap­est ticket for a five-hour train trip from Bei­jing to Xi’an was more than 500 yuan.

“It is not about mak­ing money. Six hun­dred yuan is just enough to cover the gas,” he said. “I am go­ing home any­way, and it is less bor­ing driv­ing 10 hours with pas­sen­gers.”

He said safety is the ma­jor con­cern. Last year, he re­quired pas­sen­gers to show their iden­tity cards be­fore he car­pooled home and kept in touch with his fam­ily in Xi’an dur­ing the trip.

The Min­istry of Trans­port ex­pects about 2.91 bil­lion trips to be made dur­ing the up­com­ing peak travel pe­riod around the Lu­nar New Year, which falls on Feb 8.

That is up 3.6 per­cent year-onyear and is a record for the pe­riod.

More than 85 per­cent of trips are made via road, with 11 per­cent via the train sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to the min­istry. The av­er­age trav­el­ing dis­tance is 410 kilo­me­ters, with about 75 per­cent of trips shorter than 500 km.

In Novem­ber, ride-hail­ing app Didi launched a long-dis­tance car­pool­ing ser­vice that en­ables users to book seats 30 days in ad­vance.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased on Wed­nes­day by Didi, the com­pany’s car­pool­ing ser­vice re­duces the num­ber of car trips ev­ery day in Chi­nese cities by more than 1 mil­lion.

“We en­cour­age not-for-profit car­pool­ing ser­vices dur­ing the hol­i­day travel rush,” said Wang Shuip­ing, a se­nior of­fi­cial at the Min­istry of Trans­port. “Safe driv­ing should al­ways be a pri­or­ity. Driv­ers and pas­sen­gers should both make their rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties clear and avoid con­flict.”

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