Millions in China face new traffic crush as travellers return from long holiday
Transport authorities and traffic police went on high alert yesterday in anticipation of yet another traffic crunch as tens of millions of travellers returned home at the close of the eight-day national holiday.
As early as 9am yesterday, traffic authorities had already begun to receive scattered reports of traffic back-ups, such as a snarl along a section of the Nanjing-Lianyungang Highway in Nanjing that forced traffic police to divert some vehicles over the No 3 Yangtze Bridge.
In Beijing, municipal transport authorities were expecting more than 1.6 million vehicles to return to the capital at the end of the National Day "golden week" - a 28 per cent increase from last year - the Beijing Times reported.
The Ministry of Transport estimated that the number of road passengers had risen by 8.3 per cent year-on-year to 81.3 million yesterday, according to China Central Television.
The peak traffic crush was expected to last from 10am until 9pm today.
The Ministry of Railways said that rail passengers rose by 300,000 yesterday to 7.52 million, with the numbers of passengers in Wuhan, Hubei province, alone rising by some 140,000.
Beijing railway authorities expected the number of rail passengers arriving in the capital yesterday to break the single-day record of 125,000 passengers.
The railways ministry said it had scheduled an additional 116 trains nationwide, including 64 in Beijing, to cope with demand.
Tickets for trains along the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed route today were sold out.
Civil aviation authorities said flights arriving in Beijing and Guangzhou over the weekend were also fully booked.
Traffic authorities insisted that this weekend's traffic peak was unlikely to gridlock the nation's highways to the extent seen last weekend, when the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day fell on consecutive days, prompting hordes of people to travel.
The traffic congestion and crowds at the mainland's popular tourist attractions exposed what critics said were flawed crowd-management policies.
Analysts said better ticket booking systems at popular tourist destinations could have helped avoid the traffic crunch, while some academics have called for the re-instatement of the May Day holiday week to help relieve the autumn tourism rush.