Beijing transport officials say new measures easing trafic in city

Transport authorities said on Sunday that the recently introduced traffic control measures in Beijing have eased congestion and that the average time spent in traffic during the past three months was reduced by about one hour. But, many drivers say the congestion is still as bad as before.

Improvements in public transport and the license-plate lottery system have helped ease congestion, and the average time spent in vehicles during periods of congestion fell from 135 minutes to 75 minutes each working day, Wang Zhaorong, a senior official with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport, was quoted by Beijing News as saying that the traffic congestion index had fallen 16.6 percent on the level it was last year.

In addition to traffic congestion, people were also complaining about the rise in parking fees. For parking spaces inside the Third Ring Road from 7 am to 9 pm, parking fees are now 10 yuan for the first hour and 15 yuan for each additional hour. Underground car parks now charge 6 yuan per hour, and off-street parking spaces cost 8 yuan per hour.

Rush-hour in a typical street in Beijing

Although it is important to increase parking fees to ease traffic jams by making the use of cars difficult, it is still essential that people accept the move. Besides, the authorities also have to publicize how and on what the extra money collected at the parking lots will be spent, because the people have the right to know that. And since the ultimate aim of increasing parking fees is to limit the use of cars, the policy could be made more variable. For example, parking fees could be higher during certain periods of the day to dissuade people from using their cars during rush hours.

 On the other hand, electric car buyers will be exempt from tax, driving restrictions and the car plate lottery, according to a plan for Beijing’s automobile industry. electric vehicles in Beijing should number 100,000 in the next five years, with most of them for passenger use, according to the 12th Five-Year Plan established by the Beijing Association of Automobile Manufacturers and recently approved by the municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology, the Global Times reported on April 9.

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