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53 mln bus trips on 1st day of festival travel peak
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Chinese travelers made an estimated 52.48 million bus trips on Wednesday, the first day of the Spring Festival road transport peak, according to the Ministry of Communications.

The figure compares with 49.5 million for the same period of last year.

A total of 760,000 buses were in service nationwide on Wednesday.

Although China's railway travel peak began six days earlier than expected this year, the peak period for bus travel runs from Wednesday to March 2. The lunar New Year begins on Feb. 7.

The government expects a record 2.15 billion bus trips to be taken for family gatherings and holidays during the 40 days, an increase of five percent from last year.

By Wednesday, most of the expressways in the country that had been closed due to snow were reopened, but 3,400 people remained stranded in southwestern Guizhou province.

Transport authorities in snowstorm-hit Hubei province in central China dispatched 30,000 road maintenance workers on Wednesday, while 6,000 workers cleared snow from a 2,300-kilometer expressway between Beijing and the southern city of Zhuhai.

Snow will continue to hit the southern, central and eastern areas from Jan. 25 to 27, posing a greater challenge to the country's transportation system, according to China's meteorological authorities.

Central China's Henan province and the northern part of east China's Anhui province would see snows weaken in a couple of days as the cold air edged south,

"But another gust of snow will soon attack southwestern Sichuan, Guizhou, central Hunan and Hubei as well as eastern Jiangxi and part of Anhui," said Bi Baogui, deputy director of the Central Meteorological Observatory.

(Xinhua News Agency January 24, 2008)

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