Beijing to introduce congestion charges

The capital city of China is to introduce congestion charges, as part of a wider strategy to reduce the amount of traffic on its roads, which in turn will help reduce its carbon footprint.
Under the proposals that have been jointly produced by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport and the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, the city will begin to enforce new regulations over the next five years.
It is hoped that the congestion charges, which will also be payable by British professionals moving to China, will encourage more people to seek alternative ways of commuting, including cycling, public transport and walking.
A spokesman for the government said that this was, in part, a response to the serious challenge the already densely inhabited city faces over the next few years, with a “rapid growth” in both population and the number of vehicles expected.
“Congestion fees have been a key topic of research by the city’s transport department in the past several years,” Song Guohua, an associate professor in transport planning and management at Beijing Jiaotong University, recently told the Jakarta Post.
“As mega cities face more serious traffic congestion, levying congestion fees has become a trend. In general, I think the method is necessary and rational.”
It has yet to be revealed how much the congestion charges will cost and where exactly in Beijing they will be levied.
Officials hope that the introduction of charges will be as successful as they have been in the west, with international cities like London and Milan experiencing significant reductions in traffic as a result of the changes.
The congestion charges are part of a wider effort by the government to tackle the deep-rooted problem of traffic in the city, which is home to 20 million people.
Also proposed is cutting down the number of government-owned cars, developing more bicycle lanes and investing in further development to the city’s underground train network.
Earlier this year, the Beijing Transportation Research Center reported that the city was already benefiting from some of the changes.
For example, the amount of time people spend in traffic on weekdays is 55 minutes, compared to an average of 75 minutes in 2011.
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