New bus lane to circle city

Beijing transport authorities have proposed two possible plans for a bus lane on the Third Ring Road to improve the efficiency of public transportation.In response to a bus lane proposal raised earlier this year, transport authorities said either one of the three existing lanes will be allotted to buses only, or an extra lane will be added on part of the road, the Beijing Daily reported Monday.

According to the first plan, the lane will be used for buses during the morning and evening rush hours. Airport, school and other legally registered shuttle buses will be allowed on the lane.

The second plan will be first piloted on the West Third Ring Road from Sitong Bridge to Yuquanying Bridge, where the existing 12.25-meter-wide road will be divided into four lanes.

“It’s only a rough idea, and a final, detailed plan will be worked out after thorough research,” Guo Jifu, head of the Beijing Transportation Research Center, said on Tuesday.

But it is certain that commuting by bus will be a priority on roads, since a big city like Beijing needs such a plan to encourage public transport and reduce the pressure brought by other motor vehicles, he said.

“The intentions for the bus lanes are good, but the government still needs to improve in other respects to make more people willing to take the bus,” said a Beijinger surnamed Guo, “for example, making buses more comfortable, less crowded and faster.”

Some 201 bus lines use the Third Ring Road, about 31 percent of the total number, and the road takes about 45 percent of the city’s overall passenger flow each day, according to statistics from transport authorities, Beijing Times reported.

According to the city’s new measures to fight against traffic congestion, released in December last year, Beijing is to add more than 150 kilometers of bus lanes by 2015. Beijing currently has 303 kilometers of bus lanes, Beijing News reported on July 20, after a two-way bus lane was launched on the Jingtong Expressway on May 25.

However, this new plan is not practical in Beijing for the moment and might lead to more congestion, according to Wang Limei, secretary-general of the China Road Transport Association.

“Separating out a bus lane could only add more cars on the road, which, I’m afraid, the bridges on the road might not be able to handle,” she said. Parts of the ring road are not wide, and it will be dangerous if a fourth lane makes each lane narrower than before, she noted.

Global Times

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