Chinese told to behave ahead of festive mass migration

The Jinan train station in eastern China's Shandong province seeing its first peak passenger volume last Thursday before the Spring Festival travel rush begins.
The Jinan train station in eastern China's Shandong province seeing its first peak passenger volume last Thursday before the Spring Festival travel rush begins.PHOTO: XINHUA

The Chinese authorities have vowed to crack down on uncivilised behaviour on public transport as the country's largest annual migration of people fast approaches.

Tens of millions of Chinese will be hitting the road to return to their hometowns for the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, with most of them packing into buses and others into trains and planes for the journey home.

This year's spring rush, or chunyun, will see nearly three billion trips made during the 40-day festive period, the authorities reckon.

It is also certain to push China's transportation system to its limits - scenes of chaos on board trains or at transport hubs will be common.

In a bid to minimise the chaos, China's national planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), warned last Friday that those who cause a nuisance on trains, flights and buses, or who wrongfully occupy seats, will be severely punished.

Said NDRC deputy director Lian Weiliang: "A very important reason why untrustworthy and uncivilised actions that violate order on public transport occur frequently is that the cost (of being a nuisance) is too low. An effective way to solve this is through comprehensive punishment."

Travellers who behave in such a manner can be fined and detained by security agencies, and also blacklisted and restricted from buying train or plane tickets for a period of time, said Mr Lian.

A record will also be entered into the offender's personal social credit history, he added.

 

His comments, at a briefing for the media on preparations by government agencies for the upcoming travel season, come about a week after the NDRC and eight other government agencies issued a notice calling for stiff punishment for those who misbehave on public transport.

Mr Lian told reporters that since March last year, the numbers of people who have been put on aviation and rail blacklists are 4,209 and 1,793 respectively.

Incidents involving rude and uncouth passengers make the headlines regularly. In some cases, there were fatal consequences.

Last October, a bus in Chongqing plunged into a river after a passenger attacked the driver because she had missed her stop. The crash killed all 15 people on board.

Mr Lian praised the media for shining the spotlight on such bad behaviour, noting that the number of such cases has dropped.

Besides penalties, the authorities will set up a platform on social networking app WeChat to allow people to flag either bad or praiseworthy civic-minded behaviour.

Those who misbehave "must realise the serious consequences of such untrustworthy actions, so trustworthy and civilised behaviour becomes more commonplace", said Mr Lian.

At Friday's briefing, officials said about 2.99 billion trips are expected to be made during the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush from tomorrow until March 1. This is 0.6 per cent higher than the number of trips made last year.

About 2.46 billion of those trips will be made by long-distance coaches or cars, while 413 million journeys will be made by train.

Air travel will take up 73 million trips, and is the fastest-growing mode of transport, which saw a 12 per cent increase from last year. The remaining journeys are by boat.

Vice-Minister for Transport Liu Xiaoming reminded travellers to behave in a civilised manner so as to ensure a "peaceful and smooth" journey for everyone returning home to be reunited with their families.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 20, 2019, with the headline 'Chinese told to behave ahead of festive mass migration'. Print Edition | Subscribe