Beijingers are revved up about the city's traffic plan

By Han Bingbin (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-12-22 13:38
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The recently released draft plan to deal with Beijing's traffic congestion has been a hot subject among residents.

The Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport posted an official announcement on its website on Tuesday saying it had received 2,929 opinions through the Internet and 425 by mail and fax during the plan's seven-day public input period.

The announcement said as many as 94.2 percent of the opinions were constructive and made useful suggestions about various aspects of the draft plan.

For example, a citizen named Zhang Xijie, suggested by letter that Beijing should reduce the number of government cars and impose extra taxes on people purchasing a second or third car. He also suggested that Beijing gets cars off the streets that have license plates from other cities and added that the city could also set car-buying limitations on non-permanent residents.

Around 5.8 percent of the responses were negative and were against such things as proposed limitations on ownership, possible new charges, odd-even license plate restrictions and congestion fees.

A citizen named Lin Lin wrote to the commission saying that, instead of increasing parking fees, which might lead to disorderly parking, the government could consider increasing the cost of fuel.

A netizen, using the moniker "Beijinger", said he was against the idea of controlling the number of automobiles in a city that is crucial to the development of China's car industry.

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Overall, the opinions were grouped into six areas, according to the transport commission. The issues included urban planning, infrastructure construction, public transportation and changing the transport system.

The commission said in its announcement that it will "carefully study and adapt all the opinions and thus further improve the policies and plans".

It did not mention when the proposed ideas might be put into practice.

Another draft plan related to proposed increases in parking fees, from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, was also recently open to public comment.

That report received 1,022 comments.

The commission said 63 percent of respondents supported the plan or proposed more specific ideas and 37 percent were against it.

While local people do not yet know when new policies might come into operation, some major transportation initiatives do have publicized timelines.

One such project is the construction of two express tunnels along the East Second Ring Road and West Second Ring Road. Construction on those projects will begin next year, after the design and evaluation phase is finished.

And work on the capital's first magnetic levitation rail line - the S1 line - began on Dec 18.

The line, which will connect Pingguoyuan station with Shichang station, is expected to have its first test run in 2012 and is slated to begin operations in 2016.