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逍遥骑士  

2011-03-17 18:41:00|  分类: 社会观察 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Easy riders

  • Source: Global Times
  • [10:19 March 11 2011]
  • Comments

          逍遥骑士 - 王永 - 王永
Rush hour traffic on Jianguo Lu on December 14, 2010  Photo: Wang Zi

By Yan Shuang

Free car pooling should be advocated citywide as a way to alleviate traffic, according to a Beijing resident who has been offering free rides to tens of thousands passengers in the city and submitted a proposal through a CPPCC member Tuesday.

Wang Yong, 36, from Hunan Province and president of Brand China Industry Union, has been offering free rides on his way to work for 13 years.

"Car pooling saves energy, is environmentally friendly and keeps cars off the road," Wang, author of the proposal that he has submitted to the CPPCC three years in a row, told the Global Times Thursday.

The proposal suggests developing a free car-pooling system in larger residential communities, which would allow willing car owners and passengers to sign long-term contracts to insure a steady stream of rides.

Small vehicles with three or more passengers would be charged less at tollbooths on expressways and for parking in areas with heavy traffic, according to the proposal.

'Difficult to implement'

According to Wang, though the government appreciated the proposal, questions still remain.

"They said it's difficult to implement since it would involve too many governmental departments and take a lot of work to coordinate," he said.

"How would supply meet the demand for free rides, and how would we be able to differentiate a car pool from an illegal cab?" Wang Yuqing, director of Committee of Population, Resources and Environment of the CPPCC, asked at a meeting on March 8, Beijing News reported Thursday.

Got insurance?

Safety is another key issue surrounding a free car-pooling system.

"It's very kind of a driver to offer someone else a free ride, but who will pay if they have an accident?" said Xu Shi, a resident who lives in Huilongguan, Changping district.

"It would be necessary to have a type of compulsory insurance for car poolers, which would cover any car accident where the driver was not at fault," Yue Cheng, a Beijing lawyer, who also attended the meeting, told the Global Times Thursday.

Contracts signed between drivers and passengers would also stipulate that participants would take individual responsibility in case of accident, according to Wang.

Black cab of a different color

Car-pooling can also help battle black cabs, which have become a headache for Beijing police, according to Wang. 

"Black cabs are illegal because they charge passengers for a profit. But it's perfectly natural and reasonable if several car poolers just cover [gas and maintenance] costs," Wang said.

However as it stands, if money is exchanged between driver and passenger, car-pooling is considered illegal, something Wang feels needs to change.

"Current regulations ban unregistered drivers charging passengers but I'm proposing a free car-pooling system," Wang explained. "The ideal is to have car poolers share costs."

To reach this ideal, government approval is key, and Wang explains though he is still waiting for an official response, he maintains hope that the proposal will be adopted.

Government green light

Plans for addressing traffic congestion issued by the Beijing Commission of Transport on December 23 last year indicate that the government would regulate car-pooling, but did not provide further details.

"They've adopted a suggestion I made, which means I'm making progress," Wang said, referring to his work with the commission.

A government-managed car-pooling website is needed in order to help meet demand while ensuring the safety of passengers, Wang told the Global Times.

"There are many people happy to offer a ride and many willing to car-pool, but they don't know how to find each other. If there was an online forum that the government could supervise, it would be much more convenient and a lot less to worry about," he said.

Road to less traffic

The Shenzhen municipal transport commission issued a five-year plan on public transport March 5, which plans for "High Occupancy Vehicle Roads" that would forbid cars without passengers.

"Hopefully Beijing will take further steps soon," Wang said.

While Wang promotes his proposal with claims it would benefit all of Beijing, some argue he is just seeking media attention.

"This guy [Wang] is doing nothing but promoting himself and he's full of crap," said a Web user nicknamed "3 o'clock" on the Huilongguan community network.

"Car-pooling is just a matter of trust. Even with the government's permission and encouragement, trust among people is the only way to make this idea work and benefit everyone," Wang said.

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