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Cleaner, greener roads for the future

Updated: 2015-11-28

( China Daily )

Shanghai’s authorities will continue to pursue a green development model for traffic matters over the next five years, with the main focus on further developing public transportation and offering stronger support for new-energy vehicles.

This emphasis on going green falls in line with the country’s aim to achieve a harmonious co-existence between the growing demand for transportation and an urgent need to protect the environment and preserve resources, said Sun Jianping, director of the Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission.

“With high pollution vehicles gradually being replaced by environmentally-friendly cars, nitrogen oxide emissions have declined for four consecutive years, and this has helped improve the atmospheric environment,” Sun said.

According to Zhang Quan, director of Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau, motor vehicles currently account for about 30 percent of the city’s PM 2.5, the fine particles that pose health hazards.

Evidently, years of investment in the public transportation system has yielded rewards. Last year, the passenger capacity of the city’s metro system exceeded that of buses for the first time in the city’s history. Also, according to statistics from the Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission, the average mileage of a private car in Shanghai in 2014 was 32 km per day, an 18 percent drop from 2009.

Sun said that one of the ways forward will be to extend the municipality’s metro network, saying: “The length of metro lines will measure a total of 800 km in 2020 and there will be more than 500 stations on 18 routes, making Shanghai the city with the most developed underground traffic system in the country.”

Authorities will also be building more bus lanes as well as setting up more park-and-ride facilities — car parking spaces located near public transport connections that provide commuters easy access to the city center.

With regard to new energy vehicles, Sun said the government will maintain their strong support schemes, including the 40,000 yuan subsidy ($6,300) that is currently being offered to the buyers of such cars, in addition to free vehicle licenses.

The latter is considered a very attractive perk as it is very difficult and costly to get one in Shanghai. During the monthly auction for license plates in October, the lowest bid was a staggering 85,300 yuan. Furthermore, applicants only stand a 4.5 chance of winning a bid.

“We are mulling over more preferential policies to new energy car buyers. Such policies in some other cities include free parking in downtown areas,” Sun added.

As of September, there are about 35,000 new energy vehicles, including 1,500 buses, in Shanghai.