Chinese government has always taken the construction of
highways as one of the important components of speeding
up the construction of infrastructure facilities. In the
three years from 1998 to 2000, its investment in this respect
was more than 200 billion yuan each year. In 2001, the total
investment in infrastructure construction in transportation
was over 260 billion yuan, and 32,000 km of highways were
built, including 3,017 km of expressways. By the end of
2001, the length of highways open to traffic throughout
the country reached 1,698,000 km, including 19,000 km of
expressways. Meanwhile, the state has speeded up the construction
of highways in poverty-stricken areas, and great improvements
have been made in the highways reaching central and western
China. The nation’s highway density has reached 17.7
km/100 sq km.
Overland buses are the most important means of transport in many parts of China, especially where there is no railway line. By 1999, over 1.352 million km highway has been put into use. The overall length of expressways has reached 9,083 km. Now, all counties, towns and townships are easily accessible by road. Bus is the cheapest means of transport, but also is correspondingly slow. Long distance buses can be divided into soft-seat and soft-sleeper buses. Some are equipped with TV, air conditioning and a toilet. Compared with the train, travel by bus is more flexible as there are regular breaks during the journeys. Seats on the bus are numbered, so it is advisable to book a ticket and seat well in advance. The booking could be made through the travel agencies and hotels.
All China's major cities have good transport networks. As well as public buses, there are the tour buses, mini buses, and taxis.
Buses in Chinese towns are always crowded. The fare depends on distance, and is payable to the conductor.
A taxi is often the most convenient means of travel in the city. They are available at airports, railway stations and hotels and can be flagged down in urban areas. The total fare depends on the starting meter price, which can range from 5 to 12 yuan, and the distance. Extra fees are charged for waiting and low speed driving during traffic jams. If you take a taxi after 23:00 pm, a 20 percent surcharge applies over and above the basic fare.
The minibus is a compromise between the relatively expensive taxis and crowded public transport. Charges are a little more than on the bus, about 2 yuan or more depending on distance, but it is very convenient for it can stop at any point you want along the route.
Tour buses are managed by travel agencies, hotels and airports and are provided for short tours. They are normally equipped with air conditioning and TV. A tour guide is usually present on such buses. Reservation is required in advance.