Guangzhou’s “Bus Rapid Transit” kind of slow


New Express
February 11, 2010

China’s national football squad beat Korea yesterday, 3:0, in an East Asian Men’s Soccer Championship game. The win was the first time that China’s men have defeated Korea in international play in 32 years.

Many newspapers, like the New Express shown here, ran headlines using the term “Korea-phobia” (ĉéŸİ症).

The victory is especially welcome for a sport plagued by scandal.

Unlike most of the mainland press, New Express did not put a photo of the national heroes on the front page. Instead, it ran a photo that accompanied its four-page feature on Guangzhou’s new Bus Rapid Transit system, which is getting off to a rough start.

Fourteen months in the making at a cost of a billion yuan, Guangzhou’s BRT system is the eleventh in the nation. The paper found that although the system ran relatively smoothly, it did not move as quickly as anticipated, and several kinks still need to be ironed out.

The most eye-catching is the line of thirty-two buses shown on the front page under the headline, “When the light turns red, the BRT turns into a train.” Motorists also complained that BRT lanes stood empty after-hours while ordinary lanes were choked with cars, yet during rush-hour, the buses lagged behind normal traffic flow. Office workers who tried out the service the first day arrived to work late.

The problems may be due in part to unusual traffic patterns in the days before the Spring Festival. Experts warn that the familiar gridlock will return once the normal rush hour resumes after the holidays, so maybe the advantages of BRT will show themselves later this month.

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