A campaign to promote ride sharing was launched in Beijing on Wednesday amid the annual Spring Festival travel peak, known as "Chunyun" in Chinese, to help people who could not get a ticket home on public transportation.
CCTV broadcasters Lang Yongchun and Chen Weihong, along with charity big names Wang Yong and Deng Fei, initiated the "2013 Spring Festival ride sharing" campaign with a ceremony, where the four men called on car owners to drive their fellow countrymen on their way home for free.
It is a festival tradition to see long queues in front of train ticket offices waiting in vain, overcrowded carriages with no space even for standing, and delayed travelers who miss Spring Festival eve family dinners. But a new source of transportation is growing as more private car owners are driving back home on their own.
Home-goers, drivers or passengers, can find their ride share partners through an APP client application, an SMS service (send 66 to 1066958800) or an official website http://www.shunfengche.org/. All the application systems will present real personal information if the applicants want to pair up and get insurance coverage after they reach an online agreement to travel together.
An upsurge of car pool organizations will be likely as statistics show that Beijing has 3.5 million private vehicles, compared with a 7.5 million migrant population who may have to travel during the festival.
Wang Yong, one of the founders of the car pool campaign, said he was embarrassed to be refused when he offered free rides because people thought it unsafe to travel with a stranger. "Now we have all kinds of platforms where we can look for a partner," he said.
Security problems and liability if there is an accident remain public concerns since the rides are free. Legal experts called for more moral consideration rather than legal process. "It is risky (to take a free ride with strangers) but we can think more in a moral way. More mutual trust will be helpful," said Yue Shenshan, lawyer and senior partner at Beijing Yue Cheng Law Office.
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