Beijing road congestion increased last year despite tough anti-traffic measures

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 4:16pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 4:16pm

Beijing’s road congestion worsened last year despite tough measures to ease traffic flow, with traffic jams averaging nearly two hours each work day, according to a new report.

The capital city’s roads were clogged for an average of one hour and 55 minutes on every work day last year – an increase of 25 minutes from 2012, the Beijing Times quoted a report by the Beijing Commission of Transport as saying.

The period of serious and moderate congestion increased by 10 minutes atrafnd 15 minutes respectively, the commission said.

Guo Jifu, director of the Beijing Transportation Research Centre, was quoted as saying that the conflict between the growth of vehicles and roads would inevitably lead to even worse traffic jams.

Last year, about 31 million daily journeys were recorded within the sixth ring road, up by two per cent from 2012. And despite licence plate control, the number of vehicles running on the road grew by five per cent.

In contrast, the length of roads in the capital city increased by less than one per cent.

Though traffic during evening rush hours is usually worse than that during morning rush hours, the congestion index in the evening was smaller than that of the morning throughout last year, according to the report.

The Times quoted authorities as saying that this effect was partly due to reduced evening and night activities since the central government’s anti-corruption campaign launched at the end of 2012.

“There were fewer people sending gifts and holding banquets after the eight rules [against extravagance and bureaucracy]. Naturally there would be fewer people driving [in the evening] as a result,” an unnamed source was quoted as saying.

Unusually last September, a typically congested month as it marks the start of the autumn school term as well as two important Chinese holidays, did not witness an abrupt increase of traffic, mostly because government departments and companies reduced the number of meetings and activities after work, the source said.

As part of its new efforts to tackle congestion, Beijing announced in November to cut the number of new cars available to registered drivers from 240,000 per year to 150,000, from this year to 2017.