Traffic remains crummy

Six months after new policies were implemented to ease Beijing’s notorious congestion, nearly 80 percent of the capital’s citizens still say they have yet to see an improvement, according to an ongoing survey by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport.

The set of policies aims to get to the root of Beijing’s traffic problems by expanding public transportation construction and curbing the number of privately owned cars. Other highlights include increased parking fees, the addition of new bus lines and construction of underground tunnels.

Between the survey’s launch in mid-June and 6 pm on Sunday, 21,742 people had submitted their opinions on the policies’ effects. About 23 percent of participants thought the city’s traffic pains had been eased, but almost 77 percent thought there had been no improvement, according to the transport commission’s website.

A separate survey on the website showed that curbing car sales through the license plate lottery was the least popular of the six main measures implemented, with only about 7 percent voting in its support.

An anonymous taxi driver with eight years’ experience told the Global Times on Sunday he has seen little improvement on the roads since December.

In his opinion, “Only the odd-even plate number policy that was undertaken during the Beijing Olympic Games can make transport in Beijing better.” Under that policy, drivers could only hit the roads on alternating days, as determined by whether their plates ended in even or odd numbers.

However, Xu Kangming, a traffic expert and a consultant for the US Energy Foundation’s China Sustainable Energy Program, told the Global Times on Sunday that the online surveys can only express a few aspects of the effects of the new traffic policies, because “some voters may just channel their unhappiness through the poll.” In fact, Xu said, the policies have met with expectations.

“For example, the growth rate of Beijing’s vehicles has slowed down, because many people have not bought a car immediately after getting permission to purchase one. Meanwhile, raising parking fees downtown has helped to control the number of vehicles within the Third Ring Road,” Xu said.

The survey’s results will be among the factors considered when evaluating the local government administration’s implementation of major tasks in the city’s six downtown districts, the Beijing Daily reported on June 20.

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