Beijing transport well off world-class mark

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 October, 2010, 12:00am

Beijing still has a long way to go to match world-class cities like New York, London and Hong Kong for public transport, according to a World Bank transport specialist.

Addressing a transport conference in Shenzhen, World Bank senior transport specialist Shomik Mehndiratta said that for example, the Guomao subway station in Beijing's central business district was much less convenient for passengers and pedestrians than systems in London and New York.

'Guomao, where I work, has very poor links between buses and the metro railway. Bus-rail integration is important,' he said.

From Beijing's Guomao station, there were 65,200 work locations within 10 minutes' walk and 157,200 within 20 minutes, Mehndiratta said. But London has more than double the number of workplaces within a 10- and 20-minute radius, according to World Bank research.

And New York City has 1.74 million work locations within a 20-minute walk of a downtown subway - 11 times the Beijing figure.

The commercial area accessed by a 20-minute walk from a downtown metro station was 522,000 square metres in New York, 106,000 square metres in London and only 15,000 square metres in Beijing, the report said.

'The population density of Beijing is huge. Why is New York generating 10 times the customer base of Beijing?' Mehndiratta said.

'At Guomao, if you get out on the wrong side of the metro station, it takes at least 10 minutes just to get back to the right side. It's hard to cross roads there. London's urban design is good.

'The details matter, for example, to connect to retail outlets. You have to stop treating a person on the train as a trip-maker, but as a consumer with choice.

'If you want me to take the Beijing subway, instead of lowering fares to two yuan (the existing ticket price) raise it to 20 yuan and promise me a seat.'

In addition, the rail link between the airport and downtown in Beijing was less convenient than Hong Kong and London, he said.

Mehndiratta said it was important for the mainland to get its urban metro rail systems right, because 20 million rural residents were added to its cities every year.