Beijing to have 4 mln cars on road this weekend

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, December 16, 2009
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More than four million vehicles will hit the road this weekend in Beijing as number of new cars sold in the Chinese capital remains about 2,000 daily, the municipal traffic management bureau annouced Tuesday morning.

The number of cars already running in Beijing hit 3.99 million as of Sunday, according to the bureau. No one will doubt the four million mark would be broke on the weekend, which means a quarter of the 16 million permanent residents in the city has a car.

The number of vehicles in Beijing had increased by about 10,000 last week and the number of newly qualified drivers also increased 12,000 within a week, according to the bureau.

"Compared with other metropolises in the world, the growth of vehicles in Beijing is dramatic," said Guo Jifu, researcher with the Beijing Municipal Communication Research Center.

It took the national capital 48 years to make the number of vehicles grow from 2,300 in 1949 to the first one million in 1997. The second million cost six years and a half. The third only three years and nine months. The fourth million, an astonishing two years and seven months, Guo said.

Tokyo used 12 years to make its number of cars grow from three million to four million, he said.

The utilization of cars in Beijing is also more frequent than other big cities in the world. The daily travelling distance of a car is 45 km in Beijing, while 19 km in Tokyo and 30 km in London, Guo said.

"The cars in the cities overseas are mostly used in the outskirts, but they mainly run in the urban area in Beijing. That's why they have better traffic conditons than Beijing even they have much more cars," he said.

The rapidly rising cars have almost offset the positive effect of the traffic control measures from the government, which implemented a restriction on cars based on the last digit of their license plate number. The initiative took 20 percent of the cars off the roads daily starting from Oct. 11 last year.

"The traffic jam was eased in the first several months after the car restriction measure took effect, " said a taxi driver surnamed Hu. "However, that sense of ease began to fade since the first half of this year."

The number of major trunk lines with a speed of less than 20 kilometers per hour has recently risen to 70 at the morning peak, according to the municipal traffic management bureau command center.

"More than 90 percent of Beijing's roads were overloaded. The growth of road construction is much slower than that of the vehicles," said Zhang Jingchun, director of the bureau's information office.

How to find a parking space in the downtown and residential areas has also become headache for the new car owners.

The skyrocketing growth of the automobile market, however, is good news for the major car manufacturer and sellers in Beijing.

Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Co (BAIC), China's major carmaker, has reported an annual sales volume growth of 31 percent since 2002. It has produced and sold more than 1 million cars this year, said Xu Heyi, president of BAIC.

The car maker was expected to produce and sell 1.5 million cars and make an annual sale revenue of 150 billion yuan (21.96 billion U.S. dollars)in 2010, Xu said.

Liu Wei, a veteran salesman and chief sales officer of Volkswagen Beijing Center, is quite positive of the booming market and growing number of drivers.

"I don't think Beijing's traffic is scary," he said. "The traffic jam at the moring and evening peak is caused by the suburbanization of city life."

"As long as the public transportation continues to be optimized, the traffic would be smooth," he added.

To ease the traffic, Beijing would expand its subway system to 273 km by 2010 and to 561 km by 2020. By then, nearly 40 percent of residents are expected to choose to travel by bus and subway.

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