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Commuters called to give up bus seats
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Beijing authorities yesterday launched "Seat-giving Day" to encourage people on public transport to give up their seats to those in greater need, in the latest bid to improve civic-consciousness ahead of the Olympics.

The city named the 22nd of every month as the day for commuters to give way to the aged, pregnant women, children, and the disabled on public transport.

Last February, the city designated the 11th of every month as "Queuing Day", when all city residents are encouraged to stand in line rather than jump queues.

Government departments and individuals also launched car-free days or follow-the-traffic-rule days earlier.

"Queuing Day has been welcomed by the people, and this latest move will further our efforts to improve public transportation," Liu Xiaoming, deputy chief of Beijing municipal committee of communications, said.

About 1.2 million promotional cards that say "Please offer your seat to those who need it more" will be distributed to commuters in Beijing today.

Liu's committee and the Beijing municipal transportation administration bureau (BMTAB) jointly launched the activity.

"The authorities have asked all bus companies to train conductors to persuade people to give up the seats," the BMTAB's Zhang Lei told China Daily yesterday.

The companies will also send out supervisors to check whether bus conductors are serving passengers in a polite way, he said.

More residents have been giving their seats on public transport to the elderly or disabled on buses, according to a report by the Renmin University of China commissioned by the capital ethic development committee and released on Feb 1.

"People tend to keep their seats when too many passengers crowd on to the bus or if they are traveling a long distance," Bai Meng, 25, who works in the Chinese capital, said.

She said she had noticed an improvement in people's behavior, with many of them willing to give up their seats if asked politely to do so by a conductor.

"We are Olympic hosts and should give visitors from home and abroad a good impression," Bai said.

"Pleased to be a gentleman on the bus," a passenger surnamed Zhang told China Daily yesterday that he had noticed some aged and disabled passengers did not want to get special attention on buses or subways.

"It is an interesting subject: How people can carry out good deeds in a sensitive way without offending the people they are trying to help," the Beijing resident said.

(China Daily February 22, 2008)

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