Attempts to alleviate Beijing traffic anger drivers (3)

09:39, April 13, 2010      

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Beijing experimented with the staggered working hours over a two-month period in 2008 to coincide with the Summer Olympics.

Critics point out that 4 million vehicles aren't that many for a city such as Beijing, especially when compared with the 8 million in Tokyo and New York, but Beijing traffic is considered much worse by comparison.

In another effort to reduce congestion, the city's planning authority has also decided to double daytime parking fees starting this month in downtown areas, including shopping districts, railway stations and central business districts.

Shi Qixin, a professor with the Institute of Transportation Engineering from Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that the staggered working hour policy is only part of the government's effort to improve the traffic in Beijing and needs to be optimized accordingly if it proves inefficient to address the current traffic situation.

"The key to solving Beijing's traffic problem is to improve public transportation and bus or subway connections so as to encourage car users to leave their cars at home and switch to public transport," Shi said, adding that offering bicycle-rental services between transits has been a good decision by authorities.

Beijing can also learn from practices of other countries, such as congestion fees in London and encouraging carpooling, he said.
"However, Rome was not built in a day. There is still a long way to go. It requires a long-term joint effort by the traffic, construction, parking and finance authorities," Shi said.

Song Shengxia and Zhang Shufang contributed to this story

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