Sun, September 28, 2008
China > Mainland

Beijing resorts to restrictions to ease traffic jams

2008-09-28 08:09:13 GMT2008-09-28 16:09:13 (Beijing Time) China Daily

This combo photo shows the traffic flow on the East Fouth Ring Road on the morning of September 22 (up) and September 19 (down) in Beijing. September 22 was the first weekday after the two-month alternating odd-even license plate system for the Olympic Games ended in Beijing. [CFP]

In a move to cut gridlock and improve air quality, Beijing is to implement a number of traffic restrictions along the lines of those seen during the Olympic Games, according to a local newspaper report on Sunday.

An article in the Star Daily said a ruling to be implemented on October 1 will ban 30 percent of government cars from the roads each day.

A further measure to take effect on a trial basis on October 11 for six months until April 10, will limit private car owners to 6 days driving per week within the city's five ring roads, depending on the last number of their license plate. As compensation, motorists will be exempted from one-month's road-maintenance fee and vehicle tax.

In yet another move most businesses in the city will be asked to stagger their working hours as of October 11 although some government departments, schools and public institutions will be excluded from the ruling.

Companies and public institutions are to be urged to adopt flexible working hours and encourage staff to work from home.

The government is also considering raising downtown parking fees to ease congestion but no details are available yet.

While most people applaud the ban on government and corporate vehicles, the ban on private cars has sparked an outcry from car owners, many of whom complain it is "unfair".

"I need to take my daughter home from boarding school on Friday night," said Zhangmin, a Beijing bank clerk, whose number plate ends with "0" and will be banned on Friday. "Probably we need to buy another car."

More than 2,400 people posted online comments on China's leading portal website sina.com within two hours after it published the ban. Very few postings were supportive of the ban on private cars.

"The ban should not be the ultimate way to ease Beijing's traffic woes," reads one of the postings. "Our city and its roads should be better planned instead."

While most people were tolerant of the two-month ban on vehicles on alternate days during the Olympics and Paralympics, many are now fed up with the idea even to take public transport just once every week.

But to like it or not, the Olympic traffic ban, which aimed at taking 45 percent of cars off the roads, was not only successful in easing congestion but also cleared the skies.

The city returned to its normal congestion after the ban was lifted on Sept. 21.

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