New car fees attacked

Updated: 2010-12-15 13:27

By Han Bingbin and Huang Yuli (China Daily)

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New car fees attacked

A police officer records the number of an illegally parked car. [Photo / Provided to China Daily]

Car owners and experts have expressed concern about a draft plan from the Beijing municipal government to increase parking fees in a bid to ease congestion.

The idea from the municipal commission of development and reform was posted on the commission's website on Monday to gauge public opinion. The posting followed the release of another more general traffic management draft by the municipal commission of transportation.

The latest plan divides the city into three zones according to its level of congestion, with higher parking fees suggested for highly congested areas.

Under the plan, parking lots at street level will also be more expensive than those in underground facilities.

In some of the capital's busiest areas such as the Central Business District and Zhongguancun, parking fees will increase to 10 yuan ($1.5) an hour at street level for the first hour and 6 yuan for underground lots.

Yang Hongshan, deputy director of the department of urban planning at Renmin University of China, said the proposal will "definitely" cause more congestion outside the core area, especially between the Third and Fourth Ring Roads as people choose to park there instead of the more expensive city center.

Official figures show there were 4.73 million vehicles registered in the capital as of Dec 12 and some 34.8 percent of commuters use cars to get to work in the city's core, which is more than twice that of New York and London.

The plan also calls for an additional 50,000 public parking spaces downtown and 200,000 more in residential communities.

And it says Beijing should build large parking lots near subway transfer stations outside the Fourth Ring Road for 30,000 cars.

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Those lots will be cheaper than downtown lots with fees of only 2 yuan and will encourage the use of public transportation.

A sales manager with a foreign company in the CBD surnamed Huan said he almost resorted to taking the subway to work when fees in the lot beneath his workplace went up from 2 yuan an hour to 5 yuan an hour a few months ago.

"Considering that I park my car there for a considerable time each day, it is expensive," he said.

But Huan said it is still more convenient for him to travel by car than it is to use public transportation.

In Tokyo, planners took a similar approach to solve traffic problems. There, parking fees are the equivalent of between 40 and 60 yuan an hour. And in London's key financial area, drivers pay the equivalent of about 420 yuan to park for a day, which is said to be the highest rate in the world.

"A public hearing about the proposed parking fees should be held because it will affect everyone living and working in the city," said Yang from Renmin University of China.

Wang Binsheng, from the Institute of Finance and Trade Economics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said increased parking fees are acceptable, but the price should be decided by the market.

He suggested that fee collecting rights at public parking lots should be put under the hammer so that the price of parking lots can be fully open to the adjustments of the market.


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