BEIJING, March 15 -- Shuttle buses to Shanghai's eight main cemeteries will be half price over the two weeks around next month's Qingming Festival, which falls on Apr. 5.
The price cut is an attempt to cut crowds on the traditional ancestor-worship day, the funeral management division of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said Wednesday.
Over the weeks, about 7.1 million people are expected to visit city cemeteries. People believe the spirits of their deceased ancestors will look after their families if they visit the ancestor's tombs during the festival.
The buses, which leave from several long-distance bus stations and normally cost 25 yuan (3 U.S. dollars) on average, would alleviate traffic jams and accidents, the bureau said.
"To many people, Qingming Festival is a good day not only to visit the cemetery but also for hiking," said Lu Chunling. "Thus the suburban areas will hold more people during the Qingming Festival than during the Winter Solstice Festival in December."
The Winter Solstice Festival is another traditional day for visiting tombs.
The bureau also said it would raise subsidies for scattering ashes at sea to 400 yuan (50 dollars) from 200 yuan.
Officials hope the increase will persuade more families to scatter ashes at sea instead of using a plot of land in a cemetery.
"We believe they (sea burials) make much more of a contribution to saving land resources in Shanghai," said Lu Chunling. "So the subsidy reflects our gratitude."
Shanghai Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines will operate two direct round-trip flights each from Shanghai to Taipei during Qingming Festival. The flights will cut three hours off normal travel times to the island because they do not need to land in Hong Kong.
The flights must still pass through Hong Kong airspace before heading to and returning from Taiwan.
Shanghai Eastern's flights depart on Mar. 31 and Apr. 7, and return on the same days. Shanghai Airline's flights take off on Mar. 31 and Apr. 8, returning the same days.
Direct charter flights will also link Taipei with Beijing, Guangzhou in Guangdong Province and Xiamen in Fujian Province during the festival.
They are the first direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan during Qingming Festival.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)