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Beijing to hold hearing on transport fare hikes

Xinhua, October 14, 2014 Adjust font size:

Beijing will hold a public hearing on public transit fare hikes later this month as the city's government seeks to implement a zone fare option for public transportation.

Twenty-five people, including government officials, industry representatives, local legislators, political advisors, and common citizens will attend the hearing on Oct. 28, a spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Commission told a press briefing Monday.

The spokesman unveiled two proposed plans for the new subway fares: two yuan (33 U.S. cents) for trips within three kilometers, or three yuan for a ride within six kilometers.

Under the two plans, commuters would have to pay more for longer trips.

For commuters paying using a smart card, monthly fare costs after 100 yuan will receive a 20-percent discount, and monthly costs beyond 150 yuan will be discounted 50 percent. Costs beyond 400 yuan per month will not be eligible for discounts.

A single ride would average around 4.3 yuan (70 U.S. cents) to 4.4 yuan under the two plans, said the spokesman.

Currently, the city has a flat-rate subway fare with unlimited transfers. A single-ride ticket costs two yuan, which is believed to be nowhere near operating costs.

Due to swelling ridership and huge losses by the public transportation system, the government has been mulling fare hikes to help cut its financial subsidy.

According to two proposed plans for bus transportation, average bus fare will be raised to 1.3 yuan or 1.5 yuan, according to the spokesman.

Despite the fare hikes, the Beijing municipal government will still finance 50 percent of subway operation costs and 62 percent of bus operation costs.

The number of passengers taking the subway hit 3.2 billion last year, an increase of 350 percent from 2007. Subsidies jumped from 13.5 billion yuan in 2010 to 20 billion yuan in 2013.

The city has changed bus and subway ticket prices four times since China's reform and opening up in 1978.

The latest was seven years ago, when Beijing reduced bus tickets to as low as four jiao (six U.S. cents) and two yuan for subway tickets.

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