Rush to buy cars as Tianjin limits new plates to reduce pollution

Curbs are aimed at reducing congestion and air pollution in the city, transport authorities say

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 December, 2013, 11:24am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2013, 2:40am

Tianjin's announcement it will curb the number of cars on the road, copying similar limits set in other big cities, led to a rush of people buying new vehicles, state media reported.

Dealers stayed open late on Sunday to handle the business and some sold most of their cars in stock, the People's Daily said

The city authorities announced on Sunday that from the following day motorists would have to get a number plate by either bidding in an auction or taking part in a lottery. The aim was to reduce congestion and combat air pollution.

The move was not well received by the public, an online poll indicates. About 65 per cent of the people taking part said they did not support the restrictions as they made life difficult for residents.

But about 30 per cent of the 3,000 polled said the policy would improve traffic congestion and air quality.

The authorities said more details of the auction and lottery system would be revealed later.

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have already limited the number of vehicles they register each year. Shanghai has an auction scheme, Beijing uses a lottery and Guangzhou has adopted both schemes.

Miao Hongwei, the head of Tianjin's traffic management bureau, said the city would also follow Beijing's example in adopting a traffic control scheme.

Cars with Tianjin car plates will be banned from the road for one day a week according to the last digit of their number plate, from March 1 next year to January 10, 2015, according to the Beijing Times. Cars with plates registered outside of Tianjin will be restricted to driving outside of the city's outer ring road during the morning and evening rush hours on weekdays during the same period.

Statistics produced by the Tianjin city government show that car ownership has been increasing sharply, with the number registered leaping from 1.2 million in 2006 to 2.36 million last year. The average driving speed on roads in the city during rush hours dropped to 19.5km/h in 2011, 18 per cent slower than the year before.