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Early call for staff near Expo

2009. 3 June

( Government officials and staff working near the Expo zone in Pudong New Area may have to start work earlier during the event to prevent congestion, local officials said yesterday.

One approach currently being studied, among a package of possible solutions to ease traffic pressure during the 2010 World Expo, will advance working hours at government offices near the site by 30 minutes to one hour with the aim of avoiding a clash between visitors and commuters, Shanghai Urban and Rural Construction and the Transport Commission said yesterday.

The government and an expert panel are studying several solutions to prevent local public transit system and roads from being under too much pressure from the combination of commuters and Expo visitors.

Shanghai staggered working hours downtown among government offices, companies and businesses in the 1990s.

City-level government offices start work at 9am, their district-level counterparts and state-owned companies at 8:30am while downtown stores usually open for business about 10am.

The practice had achieved a substantial effect in relieving rush-hour traffic until after 2000 when mass development of Metros and growing private car use started to create a need again to divert increasingly concentrated commuter traffic.

Considering the marked difference in Metro passenger flows between peak and quiet periods, the transport commission said the research team was also studying a scheme to have different fares at different times as an incentive to avoid peak periods.

Similarly, authorities are also considering increasing the price gap between busy and quiet hours at downtown parking lots.

The government said there were no plans to further stagger working hours in the entire downtown area.