A hitchhiking program in China calls on private car owners to offer free rides to their countrymen traveling during Chinese New Year, which is Friday, so that everyone can go home despite the near impossibility of being able to buy plane and train tickets during this time of year.
The yearly weeklong holiday, when Chinese travel across the nation to return to their hometowns, will see an estimated 3.62 billion passenger trips, 3.2 billion of which will be by car or bus. Trains will account for about 258 million trips -- tickets have long been sold out.
Those who couldn't snag train tickets and don't have a car would've been out of luck in previous years, but the hitchhiking campaign, called Shunfengche -- which roughly means a convenient ride -- aims to help everyone get back to their families, according to the Want China Times.
The online platform was launched by Chinese celebrities in 2012, but the number of people participating in the scheme surged this year. The website matches drivers with hitchhikers, both are asked to register with their information online. The details are then shared via the website, microblogs and a smartphone apps. Registration information is verified to ensure safety, and agreements are signed by both parties.
Just 1,100 hitchhikers took advantage of free journeys home in 2012, but this year, 36,294 people have registered on the website. More than 11,000 people have been fixed up with a homebound journey already this year, according to data from Shunfengche.
Sun Shuwen, who drove for 29 hours from the southern city of Shenzhen to reach his hometown in northwestern China’s Gansu province along with his wife, took two hitchhikers with him.
“They needed to go places that were on my route home,” Sun said, who used an idiom to express the sentiment that benevolent acts are emotionally rewarding, according to the Watch China Times. “Roses given leave fragrance on the hands.”