Anger over Beijing subway, bus fares hike as government cuts subsidies

Beijing will raise subway and bus fares in December as part of a drive to reduce price subsidies and curb congestion on the public transport system in the Chinese capital. -- PHOTO: AFP
Beijing will raise subway and bus fares in December as part of a drive to reduce price subsidies and curb congestion on the public transport system in the Chinese capital. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Beijing will raise subway and bus fares in December as part of a drive to reduce price subsidies and curb congestion on the public transport system in the Chinese capital, state media said on Thursday, sparking anger among the public.

The China Daily newspaper said last month that subway travel would account for 5.4 percent of the average per-capita disposable monthly income of Beijing residents, up from the current 2.6 per cent if the anticipated fare hike was adopted.

The price of a subway ticket will be raised to a starting fare of three yuan (63 Singapore cents) from two yuan for trips within 6km, state news agency Xinhua said. Bus fares will be raised to two yuan within 10 km. Both the subway and bus systems will also adopt distance-based pricing.

Many Beijing residents expressed their anger on Weibo, China's version of Twitter. "There are always traffic jams when taking the bus and the subways are so crowded. You still have the nerve to increase prices?" said a Chinese Internet user.

The new fares, which had been flagged by the government since last year, mark the first time in seven years that Beijing will raise subway fares. The changes go into effect on Dec. 28.

Despite the fare increase, the Beijing government will still finance 50 per cent of subway operation costs and 62 per cent of bus operation costs, Xinhua had said previously.

The Beijing government has provided a total of 95.8 billion yuan for the public transportation system from 2007 to 2013. The subsidy has increased by 19 per cent annually for the past seven years, according to the state-run Global Times newspaper.