|A sign saying "free of charge" is seen on a bus in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, Oct. 10, 2012. A total of 44 lines of buses in Chengdu will be free of charge from Oct. 10, 2012 to June 30, 2013, during which a traffic limit according to tail numbers on the licence plate of vehicles will be conducted. (Xinhua/Li Hualiang)
CHENGDU, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- The southwest China city of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, on Wednesday began to waive bus fares and offer discounts on metro fares in the city proper to encourage people to choose public transportation over private cars.
A spokesman with the Chengdu Municipal Public Transport Group Corp. said the free bus fare policy will remain in effect until June 30 next year. On Wednesday, 33 bus routes went fare-free, and the number will increase to 44 by the end of the month.
The mega-city on Monday introduced a regulation ordering some vehicles off the streets on certain days depending on the license plate numbers, a system that has also been carried out in Beijing and some other Chinese cities to help ease traffic congestion.
However, the vehicle restriction and bus fare exemption policy brought new troubles this morning, drawing larger-than-ever crowds to bus and metro stations.
Many netizens vented on Sina Weibo, China's popular microblogging service Sina Weibo, complaining that they could not catch a bus in the morning.
"Today, I was lost in Chengdu's chaotic public transport system," wrote netizen "Hejin firefly."
The spokesman for the public transport company said the company will continue to improve public transport services by adding bus shuttles and opening more bus routes, among other measures, to cope with increasing demand for public transport.
Despite the complaints, netizens in other Chinese cities such as Nanjing, Ningbo and Shenzhen called for other cities to usher in such incentives.
Like all big cities in China, Chengdu sees heavy traffic jams, especially during weekday rush hours, with drivers complaining that cars can only inch along during peak traffic times in the city's downtown.