During the eight-day Spring Festival holiday that just passed, the total number of cross-regional personnel movements across society reached 2.293 billion. It is predicted that there will be 9 billion people traveling, visiting relatives, and leisure in the 40 days of the Spring Festival, and the cross-regional flow of people across society will hit a record high.

  9 billion people visited, fully demonstrating the consumption power and economic vitality contained in Chinese society. This number has doubled compared to previous statistics because the statistical caliber has changed.

  Public data shows that during the 2019 Spring Festival travel season before the epidemic, a total of 2.98 billion passengers were sent across the country. Affected by the epidemic, the number of passengers sent nationwide during the Spring Festival from 2020 to 2022 has dropped significantly. After the epidemic prevention and control phase is transferred to 2023, the number of people moving throughout the society during the Spring Festival will be approximately 4.733 billion. These figures are far lower than this year’s 9 billion visits.

  Before 2023, passenger flow will only count the commercial passenger traffic of railways, highways, waterways, and civil aviation; in 2023, the Spring Festival Transport will introduce the concept of "people movement" for the first time, and the passenger volume of passenger cars on national highways will be included in the Spring Festival Transport passenger flow statistics; in 2024 During the Spring Festival, according to the "Passenger Transport Statistics Reform Implementation Plan" issued by the Ministry of Transport, the statistical scope is further expanded to include the passenger travel volume of ordinary national and provincial highways.

  The change in statistical caliber is due to structural changes in public travel habits. Before the epidemic, commercial passenger transport undertook heavy transportation tasks. Road commercial passenger traffic accounted for more than 80% during the Spring Festival travel period, and railway passenger traffic accounted for about 12%. After the outbreak, highway passenger transport still played a basic role, but passenger volume dropped significantly. According to statistics, during this year’s Spring Festival holiday, highway commercial passenger traffic was less than 190 million, accounting for only about 8% of the cross-regional movement of people in society, and its proportion of commercial passenger traffic also dropped to about 60%.

  At the same time, the number of non-commercial passenger car trips on expressways and ordinary national and provincial highways was close to 2 billion. If we still only count business passenger traffic as in the past, the data cannot fully and accurately reflect the scale and travel structure of the Spring Festival travel season. The new caliber includes passenger travel volume on expressways and ordinary national and provincial highways, which can better improve the scientificity, comprehensiveness and accuracy of passenger flow data, more effectively support the research and analysis of the characteristics of the Spring Festival passenger flow trend, and ensure smooth and orderly travel.

  The change in people's travel habits is the result of a combination of factors such as the accelerated development of the transportation industry and the improvement of people's living standards.

  The choices are becoming more and more diverse. For a long time, long-distance buses have been an important mode of transportation during the Spring Festival. However, poor conditions, long time, high prices, and high safety risks have made people’s memories of long-distance buses not so good. With the continuous improvement of high-speed rail, airports, terminals and other facilities, people can choose safer and more efficient travel methods. Online ride-hailing and ride-hailing services also provide people with more choices when traveling.

  Self-driving travel is becoming more and more convenient. On the one hand, people's living standards have improved, the automobile industry has developed rapidly, and there are more and more private cars. In 2023, there will be 24.56 million newly registered cars nationwide, exceeding 20 million for 10 consecutive years, and the number of motor vehicles nationwide will reach 435 million. On the other hand, road conditions at all levels such as expressways, provincial and national roads, and rural roads are constantly improving, and the network is becoming denser and denser, allowing people to choose to drive more freely. The nationwide network of high-speed ETC and the improvement of refueling and charging facilities have further enhanced the driving experience.

  Traveling is becoming more and more casual. During this year’s Spring Festival holiday, the tourism market was extremely hot, with many indicators hitting record highs. Traveling to islands in the south, traveling to ice and snow in the north, checking out internet celebrity hotspots, and exploring niche landscapes, people's diverse needs have been fully met. Traveling can be done on the go, the journey is more leisurely, and transportation is becoming more and more convenient. The growth in the scale of travel will more effectively drive the strong growth in the scale of service consumption such as tourism, catering, and accommodation, and the role of travel consumption as a new engine for economic growth will be further enhanced.

  9 billion is not just a number, it reflects the achievements of my country’s transportation system construction and is also a new driving force for consumption in various places. A mobile China is showing great vitality.

  Qi Hui

  (Economic Daily)