Attempts to alleviate Beijing traffic anger drivers

09:37, April 13, 2010      

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Cars pack the side road and non-motorized vehicle lane of a trunk road in Xicheng district, Beijing, February 3, 2010. Photo: IC

By Guo Qiang

Hundreds of thousands of workers began arriving later to work Monday in a bid to ease ever-worsening road congestion.

But many drivers complained that the measure appeared
counterproductive and actually extended their morning rush hour instead of shortening it, resulting in many people arriving late for work.

But a prominent traffic expert said the policy package would eventually work, adding that a quick solution is almost impossible in the city with so many drivers - more than 4 million.

In all, about 810,000 civil servants started work a half hour later Monday - 9 am instead of 8:30 - and they also left work a half hour later in the evening.

A research report released by Beijing authorities this month shows that traffic in the city's downtown area is worsening. The city has seen about 5 hours of daily congestion this year, compared with an average of 3.5 hours back in 2008.

Also this month, the government announced April 3 that it was extending a restriction on license plates by two years. The extension expires April 10, 2012, and it bans all vehicles from the road for one day a week, based on their plate numbers.

Many people have criticized the plan, saying wealthier people with two cars can easily avoid the ban by taking their other car, and other opponents have questioned whether the more than 2,300 traffic cameras throughout the city are being closely monitored.

The Beijing Evening News said Monday that authorities will release figures this week detailing the number of people ticketed for violating the license plate law.

A recent poll conducted by showed that 90 percent of respondents objected to the law.

Zhang Chenjun, deputy director of the command center of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau, insisted that the traffic flow during Monday's rush hour actually declined.

"The peak occurred at around 9 am, and it normally takes place between 7:30 and 8," Zhang was quoted by the Beijing Evening News as saying Monday.

The public simply needs time to adapt to the new working hours before the effects of the policy are seen, the official said.

Source:Global Times
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