'Beijing commuters spend hour less in traffic'

Updated: 2011-04-19 14:27

By Cang Wei (China Daily)

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Mixed response to statistics that show measures reduced congestion in Beijing

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.

He said that the traffic congestion index had fallen 16.6 percent on the level it was last year.

The traffic congestion index, which ranges from zero to 10, is aimed at reflecting the general traffic situation in the city. It has been in use since 2007.

The number has fallen steadily since it peaked at 9.7 on Sept 17 last year following the implementation of the traffic-calming measures.

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According to statistics provided by the Beijing Transportation Research Center, the average traffic congestion index within the Fifth Ring Road is 4.48, which is described as "slight congestion".

However, some Beijingers said they had not noticed any improvement in traffic flow.

"Maybe traffic jams have eased in some areas, but I have not seen any improvement in the journey from my home to the office," said Li Lin, a Beijing resident who spends an hour every working day driving from Dongcheng district to Chaoyang district.

Beijing netizens expressed similar feelings at the Sina micro blog. By 3 pm on Monday, 445 people had commented on the announcement and most disagreed with the commission.

"The bus I took this morning took 70 minutes to get to the next stop," said a netizen named "Jstyle". "I can walk to my destination quicker."

In addition to traffic congestion, people were also complaining about the rise in parking fees.

"I have to spend about 400 yuan a week for parking now, which is not easy for me," Li said.

As a measure to reduce the number of cars on the city's overcrowded roads, from April 1 Beijing started charging much higher parking fees in non-residential areas.

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.

However, some netizens on the micro blog website did show understanding for the measures taken by the transport department.

"For a city that has 20 million people and 5 million vehicles, it is hard not to have congestion," said a netizen named "FFisme" at the micro blog.

He suggested that, "subways should be built not only in those areas that have no underground transport, but also parallel to the current lines to disperse passengers and pressure."

According to Li Shaoming, deputy director of the Beijing traffic management bureau, 12,800 new vehicles joined the city's roads between Jan 1 and April 14, which was 59.1 percent less than during the same period last year.

The commission of transport is to introduce additional measures to reduce congestion, including a monitoring mechanism and more convenient public transport, Wang said.


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