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Beijing Plans to Levy Congestion Charges to Ease Traffic Jams

Beijing Plans to Levy Congestion Charges to Ease Traffic Jams
Traffic moves down a street in Beijing. Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

Beijing plans to build a system for imposing road-congestion charges on motorists, adding to caps on vehicle registrations as China’s capital seeks to ease traffic jams and cut emissions.

The municipal government will also accelerate the expansion of the subway network, increase dedicated bus lanes and encourage the use of bicycles for short commutes, according to a five-year development plan by the city’s transportation commission posted on its website.

“Beijing faces a serious test in the next five years with the rapid growth in population and number of vehicles,” the commission said in its plan, which covers the period from 2011 to 2015. The document didn’t include details on the congestion charges or when they will be imposed.

If the plan goes ahead, Beijing will join London and Singapore among cities that levy congestion fees to deter usage. China’s capital already caps the number of new vehicle registrations and limits the use of private vehicles on designated days based on their license plate numbers.

The city will also restrict growth in the number of official cars and targets to reduce vehicular emissions by 10 percent from 2010 levels, according to the plan.

Traffic jams eased to an average 55 minutes during weekdays in the first quarter, compared with 75 minutes a year earlier, the Beijing Transportation Research Center said in June. In 2010, commuters spent an average 2 hours and 25 minutes a day in gridlock.

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