Guangzhou's new bus system on trial

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 March, 2010, 12:00am

Trials of a new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system are underway in Guangzhou. The system is designed to ease the traffic jams caused by the increasing number of cars on the city's roads.

Special lanes have been created to separate buses from the rest of the traffic. There are also passenger platforms next to the bus lanes.

Recently, the government trained bus drivers to get them used to the BRT system. They also invited the public to try the new service to test its effectiveness.

The feedback from passengers has not been too encouraging. Some passengers suggested the guardrail at the bus stops needed to be raised so children can't fall onto the road. Some thought the roof of the shelter was not wide enough, and passengers would get wet on rainy days. Others had no idea where to wait for their bus, as the platforms are long enough for all the different bus lines. Hence, it's not clear where individual stops are.

Roads were frequently closed during the seven months it took to construct the system, causing great inconvenience to the public. Now it's finished, many Guangzhou residents still aren't impressed.

'There were six lanes before the BRT was set up, and the traffic jams were always very serious,' said Xue Le, an anchorman on Today Focus, a popular news programme in Guangzhou. 'Now the buses and the BRT platform occupy three lanes, leaving only three lanes for other vehicles. I'm sure Guangzhou's traffic problems will be even more terrible in the future.'

Internet user Mo Xinfeng thinks the BRT is a waste of money. He strongly criticised its construction on online forums, and suggested the best way to solve Guangzhou's traffic problems was to extend the metro.

Another complaint against the BRT is the three-week delay in completing the system.

'It's understandable that people have reason to criticise the project,' said a BRT engineer who declined to give his name. 'We worked very hard on it, but we will accept the public's criticism. I believe they should judge whether or not the BRT is worthwhile after it starts running,' he said.