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Shanghai Plans More Bus-only Lanes

Buses will be given more priority on the streets as the Shanghai government plans to increase bus-only lanes by more than 10 times in the next four years, city officials said yesterday.

Their goal: build 200 kilometers of bus-only lanes by 2010.

At the moment the city has a little over 20 kilometers of such lanes. The government plans to build another 30 kilometers this year.

"More bus-only lanes ensure buses can move about the city easier and faster, especially during rush hour," said Yuan Wenping, chief engineer of the Shanghai Engineering Administrative Bureau.

Some roads will be widened to create the bus-only lanes while other streets will be rearranged. Yuan said this could mean a street with three wide lanes would be changed to four narrower lanes to accommodate buses.

Yan'an Road, Siping Road and Zhongshan Road S. are a few of the streets with bus-only lanes at the moment.

Later this year, Gonghexin Road, Chengdu Road S. and Caoxi Road will feature new bus-only lanes.

Cai Yifeng, an engineer of the Shanghai Transportation Planning Institute, said: "More bus-only lanes will save time for passengers and improve traffic flow during rush hour."

Many residents have stopped taking buses and started taking the metro every day -- causing overcrowding - because the former doesn't guarantee people will reach their destination on time, experts said.

However, some transport experts are worried that they will not be able to properly supervise the bus-only lanes and enforce traffic laws.

Huang Xin, a bus driver, said: "My bus is always blocked by private cars or taxies during rush hours but no police appear."

He suggested traffic police give a heavy penalty to drivers who occupy bus-only lanes during rush hours. Another three bus drivers complained that traffic police are slow and never find offending vehicles on time.

(Shanghai Daily July 5, 2006)

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