Jam-packed Shenzhen mulls congestion fees

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2011, 12:00am

Shenzhen authorities are considering congestion charges on cars entering the city.

Shenzhen has the highest vehicle density of any mainland city - nearly 900 vehicles per square kilometre and growing by 20 per cent a year.

Its plans for a congestion fee have not been detailed but it could mean that drivers will have to pay to enter the city centre during rush hour or be hit with more expensive parking.

Unlike Beijing , Shenzhen has no immediate plans to restrict car purchases with a new-car registration lottery.

However, the municipal transport committee, which released its latest draft transport plan for the next five years on Sunday, said they were working on a series of comprehensive measures to tackle worsening traffic congestion.

In January, Guangzhou released a draft plan to fight its inner-city congestion, including raising parking fees, rush-hour restrictions on vehicles and limiting the number of official vehicles.

Shenzhen's draft transport plan also reveals plans to improve public transport, promising that by 2015, 300 new bus routes and 3,000 new buses will be introduced. There will be two express bus services operating in bus-only lanes.

The plan aims to ensure that journeys from the suburbs to the city centre will take no more than 30 minutes and that no one will live more than 500 metres from the nearest bus stop.

'Shenzhen authorities have never considered limiting car purchases or licence plates,' said Jin Xinyi, a member of Shenzhen's Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. 'I think it's hard to rule out a congestion fee but it will be difficult to put that into practice in the near future.

'The government won't disclose a timetable and only says it needs a lot of research, investigation and debate,' he added.

'They [the authorities] don't think Shenzhen's situation is as bad as Beijing's. They still want to wait and see.'

Guangdong CPPCC member Li Hairong said that while there were many practical ways to limit car use or sales, competing vested interests made them hard to adopt.

'We have to speed up development of public transport because it is the most effective way to ease traffic pressure. We could also launch a congestion charge or increase the price of petrol,' Li said, adding that any such revenue should also be reinvested in public transport.

Shenzhen administers an area of 2,000 square kilometres - an eighth of the size of the Beijing municipality - and land for further development is limited.

Official statistics show that there are more than 1.7 million vehicles on Shenzhen's roads but it has just 700,000 parking spaces.

There were roughly 270,000 vehicles registered in Shenzhen last year, with registrations in November hitting a monthly record - 26,837, according to Shenzhen media.

Don't all stop at once

Shenzhen has 700,000 parking spaces, official figures show

However, the number of vehicles in the city is reported to be this amount ... and growing: 1.7m