Nanjing poised to adopt congestion fees

By Miao Xiaojuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-13 07:03

SHANGHAI: It appears likely that private cars in Nanjing will have to pay a congestion charge if they enter certain downtown areas during rush hours, according to the new Nanjing Metropolitan Transport White Paper.

The White Paper has been sent to the Nanjing municipal government for discussion and could be issued by the end of the year, Jinling Evening News reported.

The White Paper lays out the principle of "public transport first", with the goal of checking the spread of motor vehicles and alleviating traffic congestion, according to sources with the Nanjing Institute of City Transport Planning Co Ltd.

"The manipulation of economic levers will be an effective means of controlling the number of motor vehicles entering downtown areas," an expert was quoted as saying by Jinling Evening News.

The proposal to charge a congestion fee is included in the White Paper. But the expert said such a step was not yet necessary, describing the move as "the last straw when we don't have any other choices".

"We are still in the talking stages, and the details will be issued soon," said an official with the Nanjing development and reform commission, the governmental department in charge. The official asked to remain anonymous.

Ma Hong, a professor at Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said she did not approve of the measure.

"More attention should be paid to the infrastructure of public transportation," she told China Daily.

She added that she often spent 20 minutes sitting in traffic on her way to the office.

According to the principles laid out in the White Paper, people hoping to park in downtown areas or during rush hours should face higher fees, and roadside parking lots should charge higher fees than underground parking lots.

As of the end of last year, there were 732,000 motor vehicles in Nanjing, of which 239,000 were private cars (more than four times as many as in 2002). Monitors on major roads have also recorded increasingly serious traffic jams since 2004.

The White Paper predicted that if no measures were taken, the total number of motor vehicles in Nanjing would soar to 1 million by 2010. Half of them would be private cars.

The number of private cars in Nanjing has been mounting at a speed of 350 per day this year, said a staff member of the Nanjing Institute of City Transport Planning Co Ltd.

Nanjing is the third city to publish a Metropolitan Transport White Paper, after Beijing and Shanghai. Beijing's White Paper was issued in 2004.

(China Daily 07/13/2007 page3)

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