Coach buses try new tack to win tourists
Shanghai coach bus operators are seeking to develop more long-distance and tourism routes in effort to deal with an expected loss in business after new express rail services between Shanghai and two nearby cities open next year.
The Shanghai-Nanjing, Shanghai-Hangzhou and Shanghai-Beijing express rail lines are all under construction and scheduled to start taking passengers before next July.
The trains will not only travel faster than those now in service but also be much more frequent.
"They will certainly hit the local coach business," said Zhang Yongbin, head of Shanghai Long-Distance Bus General Station, which now handles nearly half of the city's 50,000-odd coach travelers daily.
The Shanghai-Nanjing Express Rail, between Shanghai and Jiangsu Province, will cut the travel time from about 140 minutes to 75 minutes when it comes into service.
Trains will also stop at several other cities in Jiangsu and arrive at three-minute intervals.
A coach trip from Shanghai to Nanjing takes three hours and costs 100 yuan (US$14.63), higher than ticket prices by train.
"We estimate that future expressway tickets will be even cheaper," Zhang said. "We can develop more longer-distance trips as most of the express train trips will be only between Shanghai and the two nearby provinces."
He said some coach operators were planning to extend their services to visit popular and more out-of-the-way tourist attractions.
Construction headquarters of the Shanghai Hongqiao Integrated Traffic Hub, a shared terminal for the future express train services, said yesterday that building had started on ground-level steel structures after completion of the underground section.
All future train stations inside the hub will be connected by walkways to Hongqiao Airport, the city's major air terminal for domestic flights.
(Shanghai Daily August 11, 2009)
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