Beijing unveils measures to ease traffic flow

By Chen Xin (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-12-24 14:19
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Beijing unveils measures to ease traffic flow

Vehicles are reduced to a crawl during a traffic jam near Guomao Bridge, Third Ring Road East, on Thursday. [Photo / Xinhua] 

Vehicle registration reduced; greater emphasis placed on public transport

BEIJING - Traffic measures were announced for Beijing on Thursday, including sharply limiting new vehicle registration, in a major effort to tackle gridlock on the capital's roads.

Only 240,000 vehicles, about one-third of this year's figure, will be registered next year in Beijing, a city with a population of 19 million, said Zhou Zhengyu, deputy secretary-general of the municipal government, at a news conference.

Starting on Friday, car registration will be allocated by a license-plate lottery system, Zhou said.

Private car buyers will receive 88 percent, or 17,600 plates per month on average. Two percent will be for commercial use. The remaining 10 percent will go to companies, government institutions and others, Zhou said.

"The number of cars in Beijing has grown quickly as urbanization and modernization progresses. This has caused severe congestion in some downtown areas, especially at rush hour," he added. "Decisive measures shall be taken to control traffic in Beijing. Otherwise, the congestion will only get worse."

Traffic jams in Beijing have worsened recently. As of Dec 19, the capital had 4.76 million vehicles, 700,000 more than that at the beginning of 2010 and contrasting with 2.6 million in 2005.

A global survey conducted this year by IBM said Beijing is tied with Mexico City for the world's worst commute. Concerns are growing that Beijing is choking future growth as it gets more difficult to move people and goods around the city.

China eclipsed the United States as the world's biggest auto market in 2009, but worsening air quality and traffic have become hazards in major Chinese cities.

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The new car registration limits had been anticipated by the public, sparking a buying spree last week. The Xinhua News Agency said 30,000 new vehicles were registered in the past week alone, at least three times the normal rate.

According to the city's measures, a Beijing driver will be permitted to own only one car in his or her name but car owners, who replace their old vehicles, will be automatically given new plates and not have to take part in the lot-drawing.

Eligible individual applicants include local residents and foreigners who lived in the capital for at least one year. For residents without a Beijing permanent residence permit, they need to provide proof of having paid social security fees and personal income tax for five consecutive years.

An individual can apply once every month and an enterprise can apply once every two months, according to officials.

Local public security, labor and taxation departments will examine an applicant's qualification before a lottery on the 26th of every month.

"We will ensure that both examination and lottery procedures are open, fair and transparent. We will post the results on the website and we are open to any report and complaint from the public if one is found ineligible but granted a plate," said Liu Xiaoming, director of the municipal commission of transport.

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