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Cheap fees take a toll on traffic

(Global Times)

08:47, November 10, 2011

Taxis pass through Tianzhu toll collection station. Vehicles going toward the airport are only charged five yuan and are free of charge when heading downtown, starting July 1. Photo: Xinhua

The Capital Airport Expressway has become severely congested since toll fees were reduced or cut completely in the summer.

Traffic experts have said that while it was seen as a public service to reduce tolls, in terms of traffic management and ease of access to the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA), perhaps traffic authorities should have thought twice before abandoning the previous fee structure.

The city's transport authority announced in June the toll fees for driving to terminals one and two at BCIA were to be lowered from 10 to five yuan ($1.58-0.79) per standard vehicle, while cars heading to the downtown could do so free of charge from July 1.

Statistics from the Capital Airport Highway Development Company (CAHDC) show that ever since the policy started, there have been 60,000 more vehicles per day on the expressway, a 40 percent growth in the third quarter compared to the second this year. This has meant "not only a longer commuting time to the airport, but also a rise in traffic accidents," CAHDC told the Beijing Morning Post.

"It's not an 'expressway' anymore, as so many vehicles use it when they come downtown from Miyun county, Shunyi and Huairou [districts] because it's free and has less traffic lights," said Wang Hejie, a local taxi driver.

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