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Thousands attracted to major bridge opening
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The number of coach passengers leaving Shanghai for Zhejiang Province almost doubled from the average yesterday, the first day after the Hangzhou Bay Bridge opened for traffic enabling more convenient bus travel to four Zhejiang cities.

However, bus travelers were hindered by a large number of curious private car owners on the bridge and traffic became congested.

"The bridge attracts many private car owners as well as tourists who take coaches," an official with Shanghai South Long-Distance Bus Station, Shi Weiwei, told Shanghai Daily yesterday. "They are all curious and eager to see the bridge so traffic on the bridge was quite congested."

The bus station yesterday dispatched 20 more shuttles for Ningbo City yesterday. The passengers' major coach-trip destination was Zhejiang and each bus was fully laden.

The bridge benefits bus travelers between Shanghai and four cities in Zhejiang Province as Ningbo, Cixi, Yuyao and Zhoushan. The tickets are cheaper by about 30 percent as the trips are shortened with coaches going by the bridge across the East China sea. About 5,000 passengers left Shanghai for the four Zhejiang cities by bus, which doubled the previous daily average.

The bridge will eventually deal with a stable 30 to 40-percent increase in bus passengers on these lines to Zhejiang.

Officials suggested people arrive at the station 30 to 45 minutes before departure time, as security checks have been stepped up and will take more time.

A station worker who made a trip across the bridge said cars were moving at only 30kph near the middle of the overpass yesterday morning while situation was worse on both ends. By yesterday noon, the bridge had served 2,000 vehicles per hour and five minor car collisions had taken place, said the bridge's engineering authority.

Some motorists were seen pulling into the emergency lanes and alighting their vehicles to take pictures, a practice that is forbidden.

(Shanghai Daily May 3, 2008)

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