Friday, December 10, 2010

Beijing Plans to Introduce Congestion Fees to Ease Traffic !!

Drivers in China's capital Beijing may have to pay to drive their cars in the near future, as part of measures the government will introduce to fight ever-worsening traffic gridlock in the city. See the press release on Reuters on December 9th, 2010. For more information on the contribution of transport sector in China, see the SIM working paper (19-2009), "A Review of Air Pollution from Transport Sector in China".

An article published in The Economist on August 5th, 2010 "Pollution in China" was very intriguing.

An article in Down to Earth, August edition discusses options to control car movement and examples from the world cities, where problems were successfully implemented. Among the programs are
  • Congestion tax in London and Stockholm
  • Public transport in Berlin
  • Road pricing in Singapore
  • Limiting car ownership in China
The SIM-air working paper No.33 on the Singapore road pricing is referred in the article. This paper (with Prof. Gopnath Menon, NTU, Singapore) presents an overview of how ERP was implemented in, experiences and lessons from, Singapore. In Singapore, the average traffic speed increased by ~10 mph.

Congestion pricing in the urban centers is among the first of economic measures and successfully implemented in the cities of Singapore (Singapore), London (UK) and Stockholm (Sweden). More on Wikipedia.

Congestion pricing is the practice of charging motorists to use a roadway, bridge, or tunnel during periods of the heaviest use. Its purpose is to reduce automobile use during periods of peak congestion, thereby easing traffic and encouraging commuters to walk, bike or take mass transit as an alternative. It is important that city provides for the alternative transport modes before implementing this measure.

On an average, in London, congestion pricing is expected to reduce 20-30% of the downtown passenger car traffic and promote the non-motorized transport. In 2006, Stockholm experienced an immediate reduction of at least 20 percent in the daily car use [reference] [reference].

In all three cities, a reduction in eCO2 emissions between 10 to 20 percent is expected, along with health benefits of reducing the local pollutants. Economic instruments like congestion pricing have been successful in these cities for one important reason - the cities operate a widely accessible public transport system which can support the shift to car-free transport. The public transport is still in its infancy (at the levels comparable to developed countries) in Asian cities and the social and economic structure of the cities is a barrier yet to cross for effective implementation of this option.

Also see

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