It's estimated that more than 9 million people left Beijing during last week’s Spring Festival holiday, which gave the city a rare chance to show its easygoing side.
Driving became easy and fast with plenty of parking space. Taxis were available at any time. There were more seats than passengers on the subway. Thanks to the holiday exodus, some stubborn problems, particularly the traffic congestion, disappeared overnight.
"I would like to take the bus or ride my bike during the Spring Festival," said a Beijing resident surnamed Li, a businessman who had to buy his own car four years ago. “Because it is too expensive to take a taxi to work and it takes too long on a bus”, said Li.
Beijingers felt a sharp reduction of vehicles on the roads during the Spring Festival holiday. According to authorities’ statistics, the average speed of Beijing’s road network in holiday’s rush hours was about 40 km per hour, twice the normal speed.
Leisure replaced crowd and noise in the shopping areas. “Only in the first two days of Spring Festival the shop is very quiet,” said a staff working in a Starbucks coffee shop in Wangfujing, “Otherwise, it’s really hard to find an empty seat”.
However, the consequences of holiday exodus were not all sweet. It brought in new problem: temporary labor shortage. Many Beijingers found it inconvenient to buy fresh breakfast, vegetables, wash their cars, or enjoy the services that are mainly done by migrant workers. The city was like a huge machine which stopped working.
The labor shortage directly led to the price hike of services. "Normally I paid 15 yuan to wash my car. The price raised to 40 yuan during Spring Festival," a weibo user complained. Many restaurants had to raise their prices too because of the shortage of staff and ingredients.
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