Friday, July 29, 2016

Car License Plate in Beijing = A Golden Ticket

Beijing is one of only a handful of Chinese cities that limits car license plates by official decree. The competition for a license plate in Beijing is ferocious. In the June lottery, only about one in 725 out of the 2.7 million applicants was granted a license plate, according to official data, making the system one of the most selective in the country.

As China has urbanized and the Chinese have become more affluent, owning a car has become a way of life for many middle-class citizens. Even in Beijing, a city plagued by notorious traffic gridlock, the desire for cars remains strong.

Troubled by crowded public transportation systems, the middle class has come to associate cars with the freedom to travel. The city, with a population of about 21 million, now has 5.6 million cars, more than double what it had 10 years ago.

The glut of cars is believed to cause 31 percent of the air pollution in Beijing, according to the city’s environmental watchdog. Not only are cars clogging the city’s streets, they also encroach on public spaces like sidewalks and bike lanes because of a lack of parking.

Faced with the problems brought on by the growing number of cars, city officials decided to take action. This month, Beijing’s transportation authorities said they would keep the number of cars under 6.3 million by the end of 2020 by further tightening the annual quota for license plates. The quota this year is set at 90,000, down from 120,000 a year earlier. City officials are also considering traffic congestion fees based on driving radius and number of trips.

China is the world’s largest car market. In big cities, along with a house, a car is widely seen as a must-have before marriage. So as Mr. Li’s wedding date drew near, his patience ran out: After buying the Volkswagen in April, he drove more than 620 miles to his fiancĂ©e’s home province, Jilin in northeast China, to register his car.

Read the full article @ the New York Times

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