As delegates take detour, it's smooth driving for all
By Liu Wei (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-07 05:52
Wang Songbai was all too familiar with Beijing traffic jams in March when the
national legislative and advisory bodies are in annual session.
So the veteran taxi driver carefully charted alternate routes this year only
to pleasantly discover that he need not have bothered.
The 45-year-old lives in Niujie, a populous community near the South Second
Ring Road in Xuanwu District and mostly plies around the area which used to be
congested with vehicles carrying deputies and delegates to the National People's
Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
But this year, Wang does not have to drive through bylanes to avoid traffic
jams on the main streets, which used to slash his average daily income from 400
yuan (US$50) to about 300 yuan (US$37).
All conference vehicles have been told to avoid the West and South Second
Ring Road as well as six other major roads and bridges in downtown Beijing and
take detours, according to the traffic scheme announced for the session period.
"The alternative route is designed to generate as little traffic congestion
as possible, especially on the busy road and bridge sections," said Zhang
Chunjing, an official of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.
Traffic control is a key mission for the bureau every year during the
two-week NPC and CPPCC sessions, which attract about 2,200 NPC deputies and
2,900 CPPCC members this year. The large retinues accompanying them push the
total figure to around 15,000 people.
Wang, as well as the fast-growing number of Beijing motorists, are clearly
delighted with the new traffic arrangement, which allows their vehicles to
travel side by side with the coaches and cars serving the delegates.
The use of the global positioning system and other devices also enables the
smooth flow of traffic, said Zhang.
For instance, roadside electronic boards and radio broadcasts flash notices
of approaching official vehicles well in advance.
Also, residents are encouraged to take buses and subways instead of driving
during the conference season, especially those who live or work in the city's
Beijing metro has seen a 10-per-cent rise in the number of passengers to
nearly 2 million on Friday, when the CPPCC session began.
As for Wang, he is satisfied with his takings over the weekend and hopes the
good times last till the end of the sessions.
(China Daily 03/07/2006 page1)