New express buses trigger mixed reaction

Commuters jostle for position before the new express bus leaves Bailiqiao in Tongzhou on Tuesday. Bai Jikai

New express bus saves time, but motorists say roads affected

Passengers who rode the new non-stop bus from Tongzhou district to downtown Beijing shaved 10 minutes off their commute on Tuesday, according to transport managers.

However, car drivers complained that traffic on auxiliary roads was seriously affected on the first day of the express service.

Between 7 am and 9 am, Beijing Bus Company dispatched 400 vehicles along the special bus-only lane from Tongzhou to Guomao, said a worker in the publicity department who did not want to be identified.

Observers were placed at the departure and arrival points to collect feedback, while a Global Positioning System was used to monitor the progress of buses in the control room. “Our service got people to Guomao 10 minutes faster than usual,” he said.

Although figures were not available for how many people used the service on Tuesday, the publicity worker predicted that passenger numbers will exceed 300,000 in the next few days.

A random poll of 18 Tongzhou commuters close to Guomao subway station found that just two had taken the express bus, with 12 riding the underground and the other four driving.

“The bus lane is better than I expected,” said Teng Jie, who caught the No 930 bus during rush hour to get to her job in Chaoyang district and arrived 20 minutes earlier. “It saved me loads of waiting time and the road conditions were good.”

However, 30-year-old Ma Limei, who usually travels to work in Xicheng district on the Batong Subway Line, said: “It wasn’t convenient for me. I still didn’t get to the office on time.”

Drivers also complained that the new bus service had worsened conditions on the roads, including Tang Yu, 24, who drove to his law firm in the Financial Street. He was blocked several time because he had to make a detour around the bus-only lane.

“I drive because of my flexible working hours,” he said. “Giving buses priority is good, but not if it’s going to put more pressure on auxiliary roads. If so, traffic flow on other lanes will just get worse.”

Several transport workers on other routes also complained about the negative impact on congestion. Wang, a conductor on No 728 bus who did not want to be identified, said many cars were forced onto side roads, which resulted in her passengers having to spend 30 minutes in a jam.

“The best way perhaps is not to restrict other cars using this special lane. Instead, the government should urge more residents to choose public transport,” she added.

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