Capital looking to end gridlock in five years

By Wang Wei (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-12-09 08:01
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Beijing has drawn up an ambitious plan to solve its gridlock problem and get traffic moving again.

Liu Qi, the capital's Party chief, said the State Council has approved the city's traffic management plan in principle.

The plan aims to relieve traffic jams during the coming five years.

The detailed document, which will soon be made public, is understood to include such things as controls on the growing number of cars on city streets, the frequency with which vehicles can be used, planned improvements to public transportation, higher parking charges and the use of an intelligent traffic management system within the Fifth Ring Road.

Some traffic specialists have said stricter measures will likely be introduced to solve Beijing's severe traffic problems.

Wu Hongyang, deputy director of the China Academy of Transportation Science, suggested that the charging of a congestion fee and higher parking rates would also help restrict the number of automobiles on city streets.

Zhao Jie, the bureau chief of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, said the city will set up a car license plate recognition system and an automatic toll collection system as part of the intelligent traffic management system so the flow of traffic can be better controlled.

Economy and Nation Weekly, a magazine affiliated to Xinhua News Agency, released what it claims are details of Beijing's traffic management plan.

The details have not been confirmed by the authorities.

The magazine said the plan includes odd-even car plate number restrictions during busy hours in central Beijing and on the Second Ring Road, Third Ring Road and Chang'an Avenue.

Moreover, the magazine claims every household will be limited to one car.

In addition, a 2-yuan congestion fee will be charged on every liter of gasoline or diesel.

The magazine also says people with a Beijing hukou (permanent residency permit) will need to supply their ID cards and driving license as well as a parking permit in order to buy a car.

People without a hukou will need a five-year work contract.

The plan has stirred a new wave of car purchasing in the capital as people have rushed out to snag a set of wheels before the rules take effect.

For example, the Suzuki S4 dealership in the Madian area of Haidian district has already sold 200 cars in December - the same number as it sold in the whole of November and twice the quantity it sold in October.

"People think they have to buy a car eventually and the new policy may cause a price rise, so they are deciding to make the move quicker," said an employee named Cao.

China Daily

(China Daily 12/09/2010)