Booming auto sales feared to bring Beijing to near gridlock in 5 years

14:20, August 24, 2010      

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Average driving speeds in the Chinese capital will likely drop below 15 km per hour in five years if the number of vehicles continues increasing while no further measures are taken, said a Beijing transport official here on Monday.

Guo Jifu, head of the Beijing Transportation Research Center, made the remark at a symposium to discuss the city's traffic problems.

He said the number of vehicles on the road increased by 1,900 per day on average in the first half year. If the growth rate continued, the total number of vehicles would hit 7 million by 2015.

He warned that the city's road networks could only accommodate 6.7 million vehicles, given the current ban keeping private cars off the road one work-day a week in the urban areas remained.

Figures with the municipal commission of transport showed in the first half year, Beijing had 4.4 million vehicles on the road, with an average driving speed of 24.2 km per hour during week day morning rush hours, 3.6 percent slower than the average morning rush hour speed last year.

In addition to the odd-even number traffic controls, Beijing has introduced staggered working hours and lifted parking fees in downtown areas to ease the traffic pressure since April this year.

However, the measures have not dampened the city's booming auto sales.

Mayor Guo Jinlong said in his government report in January that the city government plans to get more people out of their cars and on to public transport mainly by extending 12 light-rail and subway lines and opening more express bus lanes in 2010.

The target is to increase the rate of people using the city's public transport to 40 percent this year from 38 percent last year, he said.

The rate measures the proportion of local residents using public transport for their daily commute. It compares poorly with other big cities of the world where in some instances the rate is more than 70 percent.

Source: Xinhua


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