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Ride sharing can ease traffic, environment woes

chinadaily.com.cn

Daily free ride sharing is urged in Beijing as the city is frequently engulfed by haze this spring and burdened by increasingly heavier traffic.

Initiated by charity big names Wang Yong and Deng Fei and CCTV broadcasters Lang Yongchun and Zhao Pu before this year's Spring Festival, the campaign helped 9,678 people go home by pairing up with private car drivers as train tickets were hard to grab during the annual travel peak.

"We can do it not only for Spring Festival, but every day," said Wang on Tuesday. Wang has been offering free rides to strangers in Beijing for years. "I hope such 'people power' will serve as an alternative way to tackle traffic jams and environmental pollution."

The campaigners called on private car owners and passengers to share rides not only during festivals, but in daily commuting or even an occasional ride.

People can find their ride share partners through an app, an SMS service (send 66 to 1066958800) or an official website (www.shunfengche.org/). All the systems present personal information if people want to pair up and get insurance coverage for free after they reach an online agreement to travel together.

Beijing now has 5.2 million vehicles, and the number is expected to reach 6 million by 2015. Among the 5.2 million, 3.5 million are private vehicles. "Sharing rides can help reduce at least 10% of the vehicles running on the road," according to Wang.

But the "good deeds" campaign is facing challenges from road authorities, who could accuse the drivers of "illegal transport”. To inspire more drivers to join the campaign, Wang called on authorities to give more green lights to drivers, such as reducing or not charging toll fess.

Drivers who want to provide free rides to strangers can ask for a green badge from the campaign team and stick it on their windshield as a signal.

"The most important thing is we have more trust by helping one another, and that is the goal."

He cherished the experience of when he picked up two young passengers who later became husband and wife.