BEIJING - Beijingers have the longest commutes of any city dwellers in China, spending an average of one hour to and from work, according to a study released on Saturday.
Commuters fight for space on a packed Beijing subway. Beijing citizens have the longest commutes in China. [JONAH M. KESSEL / CHINA DAILY]
Academicians warned that the lengthy transportation times in many cities showed that the "development of traffic systems is lagging behind urbanization".
Calculations by the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that Beijing tops 50 major cities in commuting times - 52 minutes on average.
The southern economic hub of Guangzhou, the eastern financial center of Shanghai and the booming southern city of Shenzhen followed the capital closely with 48, 47 and 46 minutes, respectively.
Residents from 17 cities, out of a total of 50 cities analyzed, spend more than 30 minutes in traffic.
"Spending half an hour is not too bad but could still be improved to catch up with the international standard," said a senior researcher with the academy, Niu Wenyuan.
Niu led the project of writing the "2010 Report on New Chinese Model of Urbanization", which was released on Saturday and included a calculation of traffic times.
"Urbanization created comparatively serious bottlenecks in traffic flow," Niu told Chengdu-based Western China Metropolis Daily.
Besides the highlighted urbanization problems, Beijing has seen a massive influx of migrants who cram the metro system and vehicles that paralyze the road system.
More than 22 million people are living in the capital city. But the original plan of the municipal government was to contain the total population to less than 18 million by 2020.
The total number of cars registered in the first four months of 2010 rose sharply from 23.8 percent from a year earlier to 248,000, according to the Beijing municipal taxation office.
The increase rate will put the city on course to have five million cars on the roads by year's end.
Li Kang, a 28-year-old Beijing local, said her home is only five km away from her workplace in Guomao (international trade center), but it takes a taxi 40 minutes to "creep there".
"Riding a bus to the subway station is even more time-consuming. When I just decided to switch back to a bike lately, the news said that air pollution is unbearable in the city."
Many netizens claiming to spend far more than 52 minutes commuting suggested "strict traffic control that was once employed during the 2008 Olympic Games should be reactivated".
Time calculations in the research examine five values: distribution of industries and demographics, average distance to work, per capita road length, percentage of multi-dimensions in traffic systems, and percentage of people using public transport.
Diverse means of transport, including working, cycling, public transport and cars, were also calculated, according to Niu.