Gridlock hits city on roof of the world

13:49, November 24, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

Cars crawl along, bumper to bumper, in central Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, yesterday. The increasing number of cars has brought many problems to the city, such as frequent gridlock and a shortage of parking spaces at peak hours and weekends. Among the city's 100,000 vehicles, 80 percent are privately owned.

TIBET'S capital Lhasa, the holy city on the "roof of the world," is becoming increasingly clogged up with traffic as more families can afford to buy a car.

"It's a real headache to drive during the rush hour - sometimes you have to wait 30 minutes at a crossing," said truck driver Tashi, who, like many Tibetans, goes without a family name.

Tashi travels several times a day between a grocery market near the Potala Palace in the heart of Lhasa and a food street in the outer areas, transporting vegetables and other groceries in his pickup. "It was never congested like this in the past," he said.

Lhasa has more than 100,000 motor vehicles on its 50 kilometers of urban roads. Eighty percent are private cars, according to the city's statistics bureau.

The expanding car fleet is one of the most apparent indicators of local economic growth. Lhasa's GDP has grown by an average 15.5 percent annually to hit 15.43 billion (US$2.32 billion) last year.

Last year, the city's average per capita disposable income reached 15,114 yuan.

But too quickly, local drivers are experiencing the headache of being trapped in long queues, unable to move or park.

Tsering, who works at Tibet's regional association for the disabled, recalled the frustration of waiting for 30 minutes for a parking space near a fast food restaurant downtown, where eating took just 20 minutes.

When Lhasa's biggest shopping mall opened on a busy commercial street east of the Potala Palace last Saturday, the area was congested with cars. "Our parking lot can accommodate 120 cars. At the busiest times, almost 1,000 cars were waiting to park," said a carpark worker.

He said the parking fee was 2 yuan per hour. In big cities like Shanghai, however, the price has been raised to 15 yuan an hour in the busy areas to divert traffic flow.

Lhasa Vice Mayor Wang Hui said 54 car parks, with at least 10,000 parking spaces in total, would be built in the next two years to meet growing demand.

Other initiatives have been suggested to tackle the gridlock.

Kunga Dondrup, an adviser to Tibet's political advisory body, earlier this year suggested authorities restrict traffic through an odd-even license plate system, a move practised in Beijing for more than two years.

"It's necessary to restrict traffic flow and give priority to public transport," he said at an annual political advisory session in Lhasa. "The move will ease congestion and cut emissions."

Last year, Lhasa reported 87 deaths on the road, a 13-percent rise year on year.

Source:Shanghai Daily


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Chinese Navy soldiers hold an evening party marking the upcoming 62nd National Day aboard Chinese Navy hospital ship "Peace Ark" in the Pacific on Sept. 28, 2011. The Chinese National Day falls on Oct. 1. (Xinhua/Zha Chunming)
  • Photo taken on Sept. 30, 2011 shows the crowd at the plaza of Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, capital of China. The railway transportation witnessed a travel peak with the approach of the seven-day National Day holidays on Friday. (Xinhua)
  • A man wearing high-heel shoes takes part in the 3rd annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, an event when men literally walk in women's shoes to raise awareness about ending violence against women, at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, Canada, Sept. 29, 2011. (Xinhua/Zou Zheng)
  • Photo taken on Sept. 29, 2011 shows a cargo ship in danger on the sea near Zhuhai City, south China's Guangdong Province. Cargo ship Fangzhou 6 of Qingzhou of southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region lost control after water stormed into its cabin due to Typhoon Nesat on the sea near Zhuhai Thursday, leaving 12 crew members in danger. Rescuers rushed to the ship and saved them by using a helicopter. (Xinhua)
  • Actress Gong Li poses for L'Officiel Magazine. (Xinhua Photo)
  • Demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street campaign hold placards as they march in the financial district of New York September 29, 2011. After hundreds of protesters were denied access to some areas outside the New York Stock Exchange on September 17, demonstrators set up a rag-tag camp three blocks away. Zuccotti Park is a campground festooned with placards and anti-Wall Street slogans. The group is adding complaints of excessive police force against protesters and police treatment of ethnic minorities and Muslims to its grievances list, which includes bank bailouts, foreclosures and high unemployment. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Hot Forum Discussion