Beijing new measures drafted to ease congestion seeking for comments

From: Cornie Huizenga [mailto:cornie.huizenga@cai-asia.org]
Sent: Friday, 17 December, 2010 03:34

Dear All,

Attached a few graphs on cars in Beijing. The numbers are mindboggling: about 100,000 cars registered per month in November and December. I was in Columbia 2 weeks ago and with a population of 44 million persons they register about 250,000 per year. Also, for comparison Shanghai registers about 7,000 cars per month, which means about 90% less on annual basis than in Beijing.

It is my understanding that Beijing will try to limit the numbers of new cars sold, albeit, at a much less ambitious level than in Shanghai. Even if they manage to reduce the current levels with 50%, they would still add almost 5 times as many cars as in Shanghai or for Columbia. The second part of the strategy to reduce the use by combination of parking fees, possible congestion charges and plate restrictions is also doubtful. People are currently willing to put up with being locked in congestion on a routine basis. This includes plate restrictions already. The cost of parking and congestion charging is not likely to deter people from driving.

If you have been in Beijing recently and have travelled by public transport you will have noticed that it is cheap and overcrowded (especially the subway). At the same time distances are large and not always conducive to cycling or walking. This means that at present there is not enough of an alternative. Creating this alternative by expanding subway system is time consuming and expensive. I have my doubts about the sharing approach proposed by Eric, at best it is a niche which will reduce the pressure a little. I have not seen any real examples of where it has reduced traffic in a substantial manner.

In my view any successful strategy will have to include:

  • control of number of vehicles being added to the fleet and subsequent use of the vehicle. Both needs to be driven by an objective analysis of what is feasible with existing available road space. Living in Shanghai and having visited Singapore frequently I am struck by the lack of complaints on the side of the population on the restriction in the number of new plates being issued. This means that the political viability is much larger than is generally being assumed by people living in places where these controls are not in place;
  • On controlling the use of cars, it would make sense to increase the cost of fuel which is not being mentioned at the moment.
  • there needs to be an aggressive expansion of public transport. For the time being this can only be done by increasing the capacity of the subway with additional rolling stock (if possible) and by taking BRT serious (making use of Bogota and Guangzhou experiences). For the long term you can add additional lines to subway. Beijing is still some way of the density in subway lines in for example Tokyo.
  • In terms of the sharing concept it might be of interest to see what the impact would be of doubling of the taxi fleet.
  • To promote cycling I wholeheartedly agree with Eric that the cycling infrastructure is much more important than the bike schemes. Create green flow express ways for cyclists as in Copenhagen and instruct traffic police to look out for the interests of cyclists. Dramatically increase the parking facilities for cyclists at malls, hospitals, offices and schools etc.
  • Make walking attractive and do not treat pedestrians as second class citizens by traffic police.

Cornie

On Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 5:14 PM, ALLEN Heather <heather.allen> wrote:

Thanks Eric for replying on this – as I cannot give the point of view from UITP without jumping through several hoops with our Asian office (J ) I would be happy to add some personal reflections. I have added these to Eric’s below.

Thanks for giving us this opportunity for input!

Heather

Heather Allen

Senior Manager, Sustainable Development

UITP

Tél + 32 2 661 31 90

UITP celebrates 125 years this year! (1885 – 2010) Next World Congress Dubai

www.uitp.org

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