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Analysis on Beijing’s Policy of Restricting Motor Vehicle Usage Research conducted by Dr. LIU Jian, Associate Professor of Urban Planning & Design ZUO Xiaoxuan, Master of Urban Planning & Design, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University With the Sponsorship of IVM 2011 In Beijing, the policy of restricting motor vehicle usage refers to a series of restriction measures on the usage of motor vehicles, in particular those based on the tail license number. It is actually a strategy of transportation demand management targeting at decreasing the total number of on-road motor vehicles.

1. Background Beijing’s policy of restricting motor vehicle usage was launched during the Beijing Submit of SinoAfrican Cooperation Forum in 20061 and has been kept in force since 2008 after the Beijing Olympic Games. The immediate reason for implementing such a policy is to guarantee the performance of the Beijing Olympic Games, while the underlying cause is to relieve the growing traffic congestion of the city.

1.1 Guaranteeing the performance of Beijing Olympic Games as immediate reason In 2001, Beijing was elected as the host city for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. According to the requirements of the 29th Olympic Games Organizing Committee, the average running speed of motor vehicles on the highways and regular roads in the Central City of Beijing should reach 35km/h and 20km/h respectively during the Olympic Games (Su Yue long etc, 2009). However, statistics shows that, in the Central City of Beijing, just before the Olympic Games, there were in average about 40 roads suffering from traffic jam every day, and the figure even rose up to 80 to 100, or more than 120 in some cases, where the average running speed of motor vehicles was less than 20km/h (Mao Baohua, 2008). In order to improve the traffic situation to meet the requirements of the 29th Olympic Games Organizing Committee, Beijing Municipal Government carried out the experiments of restricting motor vehicle usage successively in 2006 and 2007, as well as during the Olympics, pioneering in Mainland China. 1

Previously, Beijing has already put into force some restriction measures on the usage of certain kinds of motor vehicles, including trucks, motorcycles, tractors, tri-wheeled motorcycles, and other low-speed motor vehicles. Specifically, they are: no on-road running of trucks within the 4th ring road (included) between 6 a.m. to 11p.m., no on-road running of motorcycles licensed in “Jing B” within the 4 th ring road (excluding its side roads) all day long, and no on-road running of tractors, tri-wheeled motorcycles and other low-speed motor vehicles within the 5th ring road (included) all day long. Now that these restriction measures have never been changed since their implementation, this article focuses more on the restriction measures on other motor vehicles.


1.2 Relieving the traffic congestion of Beijing as underlying motivation Along with the sustained and rapid growth of economy, society, and urban construction since the reforms and opening-up in the 1980s, Beijing, like any other developed cities in the west, encountered the urban diseases of environment deterioration, traffic congestion, and housing shortage, etc., among which traffic congestion became the worst, making Beijing be joked as China’s “Capital of Congestion”. Generally speaking, Beijing’s traffic congestion is due to two facts. On the one hand, the sustained increase of motor vehicle possession has brought about a huge transportation demand. Particularly since the 1990s, Beijing has entered into the stage of rapid motorization, with the annual growth rate of motor vehicle possession stabilizing at a double-digit figure. According to statistics, the motor vehicle possession volume of Beijing amounted to 100,000 in 1980, 1 million in 1997, 2 million in 2003, 4 million in 2009, and then 4.8 million by end of 2010 (Fig. 1), increasing by about 50 times in thirty years. In other words, it took Beijing 48 years to have its motor vehicle possession volume rise up to 1 million, 78 months from 1 million to 2 million, 45 months from 2 million to 3 million, and merely 31 months from 3 million to 4 million,2 indicating again the acceleration of growth. On the other hand, while the motor vehicle possession keeps growing, the road infrastructure construction is relatively slow, making the transportation supply comparatively insufficient. Statistics prove that, in recent years in Beijing, the annual growth rate of urban road surface lagged far behind that of motor vehicle possession, and by the end of 2010, the total length of urban road was only 6355 km with a surface of 9395 m2 (Fig. 2). Thus, it can be said that the unbalance between the huge transportation demand caused by the sustained increase of motor vehicles possession and the limited transportation supply due to the relatively slow growth of road infrastructure construction is the fundamental reason for the traffic congestion in Beijing. 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Motor Vehicle Possession volume (million)

Figure 1: Growth of motor vehicle possession of Beijing from 2004 to 2010 Source: Beijing Municipal Statistic Bureau. Beijing Statistic Yearbook concerned. 2

http://news.xinhuanet.com/auto/2009-12/18/content_12668015.htm。


10000 9000 8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 2004

2005

2006

Road length (km)

2007

2008

2009

2010

Road area (ha)

Figure 2: Growth of urban road length and surface of Beijing from 2004 to 2010 Source: Beijing Municipal Statistic Bureau. Beijing Statistic Yearbook concerned. Note: Since the statistic methodology was changed in 2008, the statistics before and after that year are not directly comparable. In view that traffic congestion has damaged the city’s functional performance, the citizen’s living quality, and the capital’s overall appearance, Beijing Municipal Government had to carry out a series of measures to deal with it. Now that the trial measures, such as the restriction of motor vehicle usage of public sectors and the alternative running of motor vehicles on either an even or an odd calendar day based on the even or odd tail license number, had achieved a remarkable result of relieving the traffic congestion of Beijing during the Olympics, they became the essential part of the counter measures against traffic congestion.

2. Evolution and Effects 2.1 Before the Olympics In order to make a reference of policy-making and accumulate the experience of management for the practice of restricting motor vehicle usage during the Beijing Olympics Games, Beijing Municipal Government carried out in trial the measures of restricting motor vehicle usage for twice before the Olympics, that is during the Beijing Summit of Sino-African Cooperation Forum in 2006 and the Good Luck Beijing Comprehensive Test Events for Olympics in 2007. Both trials proved the positive role of the measures of restricting motor vehicle usage on relieving traffic congestion. 

Restriction measures implemented during the Beijing Summit of Sino-African Cooperation Forum From Nov. 1st to 6th, 2006 when the Beijing Summit of Sino-African Cooperation Forum was held, Beijing Municipal Government carried out a series of transportation demand management measures, such as encouraging the flexible working hours, restricting the motor vehicle usage of the public sectors, increasing the public transportation capacity, promoting the less use of private


cars, and so on. Among them, those concerning the restriction of motor vehicle usage referred to that 50% of the motor vehicles belonging to the Central Government and its departments, the army, and the state-owned enterprises and institutions in Beijing, 80% of the motor vehicles belonging to Beijing Municipal Government and its departments and institutions, and 80% of the motor vehicles belonging to the government representative offices in Beijing of other provinces and municipalities should be sealed up and stop on-road running. Meanwhile, following the government’s slogan of “less use of private cars", 180 agencies jointly held the large-scale public movement of "Green Travel for Olympics: One Day off Road”, advocating to the public no-driving on Nov. 2nd and 3rd and less driving as far as possible on the next two days. According to statistics, Beijing had a motor vehicle possession volume of 2.75 million by the end of 2006. Yet during the Beijing Summit of Sino-African Cooperation Forum, nearly 500,000 of them were sealed up and stopped on-road running, accounting for 20% of the total motor vehicle volume of that year. This played a positive role on relieving the traffic congestion of the city, making the traffic flow decrease on the one hand and the motor vehicle’s running speed significantly increase on the other hand. In details, the traffic flow on the urban expressways fell down by 6.4%, while the average running speed of motor vehicles increased by 7.3%; the traffic flow on the ring roads during the morning rush hours dropped by 5.8%, while the average running speed of motor vehicles increased by 7.4%; and the city's average running speed of motor vehicles during the morning rush hours increased by 7.5% (Wang Shu Ling, 2007), making the average running speed of motor vehicles on the urban expressways and ordinary urban roads keep at 25km/h and 15km/h or so respectively. Although these figures were still far from the criteria set by the 29th Olympic Game Organizing Committee, they did prove the positive role of restricting the motor vehicle usage of the public sectors on relieving traffic congestion. Moreover, the public movement of “Green Travel for Olympics: One Day off Road” also got a positive response from the citizens, with about 410,000 people signing to reduce private car use and take green travel modes instead during the Summit. This resulted in a remarkable increase of passenger transportation volume of the public transportation system during the Summit. In details, the daily passenger transportation volume of buses reached 10.67 million, increasing by 6.7%, and that of subways reached 2.17 million, increasing by 15.9% (Wang Shu-Ling et al, 2007). 

Restriction measures implemented during the Good Luck Beijing Comprehensive Test Events for Olympics On Aug. 7th, 2007, Beijing Municipal Government issued the Notice on Implementing Temporary Traffic Management Measures during The Good Luck Beijing Comprehensive Test Events for Olympics for Integrated Transportation and Environment Monitoring, stating that, from Aug. 17th to 20th, 2007, some temporary traffic management measures should be applied to the roads within the administration area of Beijing from 6 pm to 24 pm every day. According to the Notice, all the motor vehicles licensed in Beijing, as well as those licensed in province yet running in Beijing, which have an odd tail license number should only be on roads on an odd calendar day, while those which have an even tail license number should only be on roads on an even calendar day; yet, exception should be made for police cars, fire engines, ambulances, wrecking trucks, buses and trolleys, taxies, inter-province coaches, postal service vehicles, and other specified


vehicles. On the same day, Beijing Municipal Government also posted a letter to its citizens, requiring all the departments and institutions of Beijing Municipal Government to further reduce the usage of motor vehicles by 20% besides respecting the regulation of alternative running on either an even or an odd calendar day based on the even or odd tail license number, while appealing all the citizens to travel as far as possible by bus, subway, and taxi, or bike and foot. In terms of the actual effects of the above-mentioned traffic management measures, the traffic flow on the urban arteries of Beijing decreased by 30% on the first day, making the average running speed of motor vehicles reach 38.6 km/h;3 and in the four days when the temporary traffic management measures were implemented, the number of on-road motor vehicles decreased in average by about 1.3 million per day (SuYue Long et al, 2009), which accounted for more than 1/3 of the total motor vehicles of that year. This contributed a lot to not only relieving traffic congestion, but also improving air quality.4 In addition, a comparative analysis on two arterial roads near the North 4th Ring Road in Haidian District also showed clearly that the average running speed of motor vehicles were significantly improved after the temporary traffic management measures were carried out, particularly during the rush hours, with that during the morning rush hours increasing from 23.8 km/h to 35.5 km/h by an increase of 50%, and that during the evening rush hours increasing from 22.1 km/h to 53.1 km/h by an increase of up to 150% (SuYue Long et al, 2009).

2.2 During the Olympics On Jun. 19th, 2008, Beijing Municipal Government issued the Notice on Implementing Temporary Traffic Management Measures over Motor Vehicle Usage in Beijing during the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, announcing the implementation of the temporary traffic management measures over motor vehicle usage in Beijing from Jul. 1st to Sept. 20th, 2008. In details, the measures included: from 0:00 am on Jul. 1st to 24:00 pm Sept. 20th, all the motor vehicles labeled with yellow environmental certificates and licensed with trial plates should be forbidden to run on the roads within the administration area of Beijing; from 0:00 am on Jul. 20th to 24:00 pm Sept. 20th, all the motor vehicles licensed in Beijing, except police cars, fire engines, ambulances, wrecking trucks, buses and trolleys, taxies, inter-province coaches, postal service vehicles, and other specified vehicles, should be in alternative running follow the principle of “odd number on odd day and even number on even day”; certain kinds of motor vehicles should also be in line with other restrictions besides the above ones (Table 1); and all the motor vehicles suspended from on-road running should enjoy in correspondence the reduced taxation over vehicles and ships, as well as road maintenance fee. Table 1: Traffic management measures implemented during the Olympic Games Target Vehicles Labeled with yellow environmental

Valid Time From 0:00am on Jul. 1 to 24:00 pm Sept. 20th

Valid Area st

Roads within Beijing’s administration area

3 http://news.sina.com.cn/c/2007-08-18/023012404452s.shtml。 4 http://news.sina.com.cn/z/hybjcss/1.shtml。

Restrictions No on-road running


certificates and licensed with trial plates For earthwork or recremental transportation From 0:00am on Jul. 20th to 24:00 pm Aug. 27th

Roads within Beijing’s administration area

From 0:00 am on Aug. 28th to 24:00 pm Sept. 20th

Roads within the 5th Ring Road (included), Airport Expressway, G6 (from Shangqing Bridge to Xiguan Island), BeijingChengde Expressway (Laiguangying Bridge to Baima South Bridge)

Alternative running follow the principle of “odd number on odd day and even number on even day”

Postal service vehicles

From Jul. 1st to Sept. 20th, between 6:00 am to 24:00 pm everyday

Roads within the 6th ring (excluded)

No on-road running

Freight vehicles

From Jul. 1st to Sept. 20th, between 6:00 am to 24:00 pm everyday

Roads within the 6th ring (excluded)

Licensed in Beijing

No on-road running, while alternative running follow the principle of “odd number on odd day and even number on even day” in the rest of the period

From Jul. 1st to Sept. 20th, between 6:00 am to 24:00 pm everyday

Roads within the 6 ring (included)

From Jul. 1st to Sept. 20th, between 0:00 am to 6:00 am everyday

Roads within 5th ring (included)

Motorcycles licensed with Jing B

From 0:00 am on Jul. 1st to 24:00 pm on Sept. 20th

Roads within the 4th ring (excluding its side roads)

Intoxicated chemical freight vehicles

From 0:00 am on Jul. 1st to 24:00 pm on Sept. 20th

Roads within Beijing’s administration area

No on-road running

Roads within the 6th ring (excluded)

No on-road running, while alternative running follow the principle of “odd number on odd day and even number on even day” in the rest of the period

Tractors, low-speed freight vehicles, and triwheeled motorcycles

Other dangerous chemical freight vehicles

From Jul. 1st to Sept. 20th, between 6:00 am to 24:00 pm everyday

th

Resources: Beijing Municipal Government. Notice on Implementing Temporary Traffic Management Measures over Motor Vehicle Usage in Beijing during the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Jun.


19th, 2008. With thanks to the implementation of the above-mentioned traffic management measures, Beijing had seen a decrease of daily traffic flow by 45% in average during the Olympic Games, that is about 1.6 million motor vehicles less on road per day, which made the average running speed of motor vehicles in the Central City reach 43 km/h, far exceeding the requirements set by the 29th Olympic Games Organizing Committee. At the same time, there appeared an increase of more than 4 million passengers in public transportation, making the peak daily passenger transportation capacity of bus, subway and taxi rise to 15.1 million, 4.9 million and 2.7 million respectively, all of which marked a new historical record; and statistics showed that the public transportation travel ratio of Beijing peaked at 45% during the Olympic Games, achieving in advance the planned goal for 2015 when the rail transit mileage should be 560 km.5 The remarkable reduction of traffic flow also reduced the polluted gas emissions by nearly 60% which significantly improved the air quality of Beijing. Of course, all these achievements largely relied on the broad support of the citizens of Beijing for the Olympics. According to a survey conducted by Beijing Social Consensus Center in 2007, about 90% of Beijing’s citizens were for the alternative running of motor vehicles in line with the principle of “odd number on odd day and even number on even day” during the Olympic Games,6 which demonstrated the solid social foundation for the implementation of the measures restricting motor vehicle usage.

2.3 After the Olympics After the Olympics, whether Beijing should continue the policy of restricting motor vehicle usage based on the tail license number became a hot topic among the public. The supportive party deemed that the policy of restricting motor vehicle usage would make the public transportation become a substitute of private cars as key travel mode, which will greatly reduce the commuting time, remarkably relieve the traffic congestion and promote the air quality, and then significantly improve the living environment of the city. Yet, the opponent party believed that such a policy would stimulate some families to purchase the second car, which will counteract the effects of this policy within a certain period of time, while the public transportation system was not complete enough to become a substitute of private cars as key travel mode; moreover, the improvement of air quality during the Olympic Games was the effect of not only restricting motor vehicle usage, but also suspending, or even shutting down, the production of numerous polluting enterprises in the surrounding areas of Beijing. The neutral party hold that the objectives of restricting motor vehicle usage should be desirable, but the practical measures shall be modified to be more flexible, for example, applicable during the weekdays rather than weekends and holidays, so as to meet the demands for commuting. According to the survey conducted by Beijing RuizhiYangguang Consulting Co. Ltd following the demand of the New Beijing News, 68.9% of the 5058 interviewees were for the policy of restricting motor vehicle usage based on the tail license number, 19% were against, and 12.1% were neutral7. Although the public support rate was significantly lowered compared with that during the Olympic Games, it was still much higher than

5 JIANG Xuefeng. Beijing: A Good Traffic Situation during Olympic Games. Transportation Forum, P11. 6 http://life.people.com.cn/GB/1089/6161642.html。 7 http://society.people.com.cn/GB/41158/7757764.html。


the against rate. Based on the broad public support and with extensive reference to the views of all parties, Beijing Municipal Government finally determined to continue the policy of restricting motor vehicle usage since Oct., 2008, making the traffic management measure of restricting motor vehicle usage based on the tail license number a routine one.  Restriction measures implemented from Oct., 2008 to Apr., 2009 On Sept. 28th, 2008, Beijing Municipal Government issued the Notice on Implementing Traffic Management Measures. The measures included: since Oct. 1st, 2008, 30% of the motor vehicles belonging to Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments should be sealed up and stop on-road running, and all the motor vehicles belonging to the Central Government and its departments in Beijing, the state-owned enterprises and institutions in Beijing, Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments, and the institutions attached to Beijing Municipal Government should be off road one day a week based on the tail license number; from Oct. 11th, 2008 to Apr. 10th, 2009, the rest of the motor vehicles registered in Beijing should be off road one day a week based on the tail license number and enjoy in correspondence the reduction of the vehicle and ship tax and the maintenance fee for one month; all the motor vehicles off road one day a week should be divided into five groups according to the tail license number8 and the day off road should alternate every month; yet, the police cars, fire engines, ambulances, wrecking trucks, buses and trolleys, taxies, inter-province coaches, postal service vehicles, and other specified vehicles should be exceptable for these measures (Table 2). The Notice also articulated that Beijing Municipal Government should insist on the development in priority of public transportation and carry out in steps the specific measures for relieving traffic congestion, so as to facilitate the easy travel of the citizens. Table 2: Traffic management measures implemented from Oct., 2008 to Apr., 2009 Target Vehicles

Valid Time

Valid Area

st

Restrictions

Belonging to Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments

Since Oct. 1 , 2008

Belonging to the Central Government and its departments in Beijing, the stateowned enterprises and institutions in Beijing, Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments, and the institutions attached to Beijing Municipal Government

Since Oct. 1st, 2008, from 0:00 am to 24:00 pm every day

Roads within Beijing’s administratio n area

Off road one day a week, except legal holidays and weekends.

The rest registered in Beijing

From Oct. 11th, 2008 to Apr. 10th, 2009, between 6:00 am to 21:00 pm every day

Roads within the 5th ring road (included)

Off road one day a week, except legal holidays and weekends.

30% be sealed up and stopped on-road running

Source: Beijing Municipal Government. Notice on Implementing Traffic Management Measures. Sept. 28th, 2008.

8 That is 5 and 0, 1 and 6, 2 and 7, 3 and 8, and 4 and 9 respectively. The last group includes also English letters and temporary licenses.


In order to help the citizens with their travel decisions, Beijing adopted the traffic index, called also as traffic congestion index or traffic performance index, to depict in an easier and more direct way the traffic situation of the road network. Ranging from 0 to 10, the traffic index is divided into five groups to reflect five situations of traffic performance respectively, i.e. expedite, expedite in general, slightly congested, moderately congested and severely congested. The higher the index is, the more severe the traffic congestion is and the longer the corresponding travel time is (Table 3). Table 3: Traffic Index of Beijing Index

Level

Traffic situation

Time expenditure

0-2

Expedite

Excellent traffic situation without any roads congested.

On-road running at expected speed limits.

2-4

Expedite in general

Good traffic situation with few roads congested.

0.3 -0.5 times more for every single travel.

4-6

Slightly congested

Unsatisfying traffic situation with some ring roads and arteries congested.

0.5-0.8 times more for every single travel.

6-8

Moderately congested

Bad traffic situation with many ring roads and arteries congested.

0.8-1.0 times more for every single travel.

8-10

Severely congested

Extremely bad traffic situation with most roads congested.

1 times more for every single travel.

Source: Summarized based on the information from http://its.bjtrc.org.cn/zhishujiedu.html, the website of Beijing Transportation Research Center. On Apr. 2nd, 2009, Beijing Transportation Research Center released the assessment report on the effects of these traffic management measures and the date analyses on traffic situation and public transportation operation showed that, during the six months since the traffic management measures were put into force on Oct. 1st, 2008, in spite of the rapid growth of motor vehicle possession which exceeded 3.5 million by the end of 2008, Beijing’s traffic situation had been remarkably improved, with the average traffic index decreasing from 7.54 before the implementation of the traffic management measures, which refers to the traffic situation of moderate congestion, to 5.15 after the implementation of the traffic management measures, which refers to the traffic situation of slight congestion. Meanwhile, the traffic flows on the arteries and the ring roads in Beijing’s Central City decreased by 4.1% and 2.8% respectively, with the average running speed of motor vehicles increasing by 5.5% and 3.4% respectively. During the morning and evening rush hours, the number of congested roads decreased from 422 and 818 to 249 and 555 and the congestion mileage decreased from 99 km and 177 km to 50 km and 110 km, leaving the average running speed of motor vehicles keep at 25.2 km/h and 21.3 km/h, which increased by 15.6% and 23% respectively. In terms of congestion time throughout the day, the figure decreased from 7 hours and 45 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes, among which time of severe congestion decreased from 2 hours to 0, that of moderate congestion decreased from 1 hour 45 minutes to 45 minutes, that of slight congestion decreased from 4 hours 15 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes. At the same time, the evaluation report released by Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau also confirmed that, after the implementation of the traffic management measures, Beijing saw a remarkable improvement of air quality. Apart from the comprehensive effects of the measures including renovating coal-fired power plants, replacing


coal with electricity for heating, and reclaiming oil and gas produced at gas stations, the role of restricting motor vehicle usage should not be ignored, with the daily gas emission of motor vehicles decreasing by 375 tons, or 10%.9 During the implementation of the traffic management measures, Beijing Social Consensus Center and Beijing Horizon Research Co Ltd had conducted a survey in Dec., 2008 and Feb., 2009 respectively on the aspects of attitudes to the traffic management measures, evaluations on the alternation of off-road day based on the tail license number, evaluations on the effects of the traffic management measures, and suggestions for the future. The results showed that more than 85% of Beijing’s citizens were for the policy of "being off road one day a week" and over 58% supported the measures of restricting motor vehicle usage based on the tail license number; the main reason for those against the measures of restricting motor vehicle usage was that the frequent alternation made them difficult to remember the day when they should be off road. The surveys also revealed that, regarding the long-term implementation of the measures restricting motor vehicle usage, the support rate was over 80% among car owners, while the figure was as high as 93% among those without a car.10 However, it should be noticed that the survey results might be very different one from another due to the differences in interviewee selection, survey methodology, questionnaire arrangement, and so on. For example, Sina had also conducted an online survey quite similar to those mentioned above, yet with 80.8% of the interviewees being car owner, and it showed that 81.4% of the interviewees were against the measures restricting motor vehicle usage, telling from one aspect the car owners’ interests.  Restriction measures implemented from Apr., 2009 to Apr., 2010 On Apr. 3rd, 2009, Beijing Municipal Government issued the Notice on Continuing to Implement Traffic Management Measures, stating to continue the implementation of a series of traffic management measures. Again, 30% of the motor vehicles belonging to Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments should be sealed up and stop on-road running, and all the motor vehicles belonging to the Central Government and its departments in Beijing, the state-owned enterprises and institutions in Beijing, Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments, and the institutions attached to Beijing Municipal Government should be off road one day a week based on the tail license number; from Apr. 11th, 2009 to Apr. 10th, 2010, the rest of the motor vehicles registered in Beijing should be off road one day a week based on the tail license number, except the police cars, fire engines, ambulances, wrecking trucks, buses and trolleys, taxies, inter-province coaches, postal service vehicles, and other specified vehicles; all the motor vehicles off road one day a week should be divided into five groups according to the tail license number and the day off road should alternate every 13 weeks (Table 4). The Notice restated that Beijing Municipal Government should insist on the development in priority of public transportation and carry out in steps the specific measures for relieving traffic congestion with particular efforts on breaking through the blocked roads, improving over-fly facilities, optimizing cross-road organization, and unblocking micro-circulation system, so as to establish a safe, convenient and efficient comprehensive traffic system to facilitate the easy travel of the citizens. 9 http://news.sina.com.cn/c/2009-04-02/112617534917.shtml 10 http://news.sina.com.cn/c/2009-04-02/112617534917.shtml


Table 4: Traffic management measures implemented from Apr. 11th, 2009 to Apr. 10th, 2010 Target Vehicles

Valid Time

Valid Area

th

Restrictions

Belonging to Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments

Since Apr. 11 , 2009

Belonging to the Central Government and its departments in Beijing, the stateowned enterprises and institutions in Beijing, Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments, and the institutions attached to Beijing Municipal Government

Since Apr. 11th, 2009, from 0:00 am to 24:00 pm every day

Roads within Beijing’s administration area

Off road one day a week, except legal holidays and weekends.

The rest registered in Beijing

From Apr. 11th, 2009 to Apr. 10th, 2010, from 7:00 am to 20:00 pm every day

Roads within the 5th ring road (excluded)

Off road one day a week, except legal holidays and weekends.

30% be sealed up and stopped onroad running

Source: Beijing Municipal Government. Notice on Continuing to Implement Traffic Management Measures. Apr. 3rd, 2009 Compared with the previous practice of traffic management, some of the measures were adjusted in the following aspects: firstly, to shorten the valid time from 6:00 am to 21:00 pm everyday to from 7:00 am to 20:00 pm everyday; secondly, to reduce the valid area by excluding the 5th ring road; and thirdly, to extend the alternation interval from one month to 13 weeks. Although the traffic situation and air quality of Beijing did have been improved remarkably when the traffic management measures were implemented from Apr. 11th, 2009 to Apr. 10th, 2010, in particular compared with the original situations before Oct., 2008 when no traffic management measures were adopted, the actual effects were not as satisfying as expected because of the reduction of valid time and the decrease of valid area, as well as the sustained growth of motor vehicle possession which exceeded 4 million by the end of 2009. Speaking in detail, the traffic index rose from 5.15 up to 6.05, which means that the traffic situation was worsened from slightly congested to moderately congested, the average running speed of motor vehicles during the morning rush hours decreased from 25.2 km/h to 24.3 km/h, and the average daily gas emission of motor vehicles reduced from 375 tons to 310 tons.11 Thus, it can be said that the effects of the measures of restricting motor vehicle usage on relieving traffic congestion are gradually counteracted by the continuous growth of motor vehicles.  Restriction measures implemented since Apr., 2010 On Apr. 1st, 2010, Beijing Municipal Government issued the Notice on Implementing Traffic Management Measures during Rush Hours on Weekdays, confirming the implementation of a series of traffic management measures during the rush hours on weekdays since Apr. 11th, 2010. The measures included that, from Apr. 11th, 2010 to Apr. 10th, 2012, all the motor vehicles

11 http://news.enorth.com.cn/system/2010/04/03/004575228.shtml。


belonging to the Central Government and its departments in Beijing, the state-owned enterprises and institutions in Beijing, Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments, and the institutions attached to Beijing Municipal Government should be off road one day a week based on the tail license number; the rest of the motor vehicles registered in Beijing should be off road one day a week during weekdays based on the tail license number, except the police cars, fire engines, ambulances, wrecking trucks, buses and trolleys, taxies, inter-province coaches, postal service vehicles, and other specified vehicles; all the motor vehicles off road one day a week should be divided into five groups according to the tail license number and the day off road should alternate every 13 weeks (Table 5). The Notice restated that Beijing Municipal Government should further the development in priority of public transportation and carry out in a comprehensive way a series of measures to relieve traffic congestion, including accelerating the construction of rail transit, optimizing the operation environment of bus transport, adjusting the price of parking charge in some critical areas, improving the organization of parking system, implementing in trial the operation of school buses, strengthening the administration on road works, stimulating the construction of ride-transfer facilities, further optimizing the mode of taxi operation, expanding the implementation area of the expressway non-stop charging system, improving the cycling and pedestrian systems, and so on. Table 5: Traffic management measures implemented from Apr. 11th, 2010 to Apr. 10th, 2012 Target Vehicles

Valid Time th

Valid Area

Restrictions

Belonging to the Central Government and its departments in Beijing, the stateowned enterprises and institutions in Beijing, Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments, and the institutions attached to Beijing Municipal Government

Since Apr. 11 , 2010, from 0:00 am to 24:00 pm every day

Roads within Beijing’s administration area

Off road one day a week

The rest registered in Beijing

From Apr. 11th, 2010 to Apr. 10th, 2012, from 7:00 am to 20:00 pm every day

Roads within the 5th ring road (excluded)

Off road one day a week during rush hours

Source: Beijing Municipal Government. Notice on Implementing Traffic Management Measures during Rush Hours on Weekdays. April 1st 2010 In terms of contents, the new traffic management measures were almost the same as the previous ones except that the validity was extended from one to two years. On Dec. 21st, 2010, Beijing Municipal Government further issued the Suggestions for Further Stimulating Scientific Development of Transportation and Greatly Relieving Traffic Congestion of Beijing, declaring to initiate an official evaluation on the effects of relieving traffic congestion since 2011 in the six urban districts of Beijing which should be taken as a factor of performance appraisal for the district governments. This demonstrates from one aspect the solid determination of Beijing Municipal Government to resolve the issue of traffic congestion. The Suggestions points out that the current situation of traffic congestion is actually a reflection of the development of economy and the improvement of living standards, but it also reflects some problems that are not correspondent to the economic growth and life improvement, such as the over-concentration of


urban functions and population to the Central City, the rapid growth of motor vehicle possession and the frequent usage of motor vehicles, the insufficiency of public transportation, and the low level of comprehensive traffic management that cannot match up the rapid growth of motor vehicle possession. This makes it urgent to adopt immediately some comprehensive measures to deal with and resolve the issue of traffic congestion which is becoming more and more severe. Clarifying the goals and methodology, the Suggestions puts forward 28 comprehensive measures on further improving urban planning so as to decentralize the urban functions and population from the Central City, accelerating the construction of transportation infrastructures so as to improve the transportation capacity, furthering the preferential development of public transportation so as to encourage travels by public transportation, improving the cycling, pedestrian, and ride-transfer systems so as to facilitate green travels, further highlighting the traffic management over motor vehicles so as to guide reasonable usage, and strengthening the scientific management so as to improve the levels management and operation of modern transportation. Among them, there is the measure of restricting motor vehicle usage, which articulates in detail that the restriction measures on the motor vehicles labeled with yellow environmental certificates and that of “being off-road during rush hours on weekdays” should be continued; in case of extreme weather, major events, and important festivals which may lead to serious traffic congestion, the measure of alternative running based on the odd or even tail license number should be implemented timely during the rush hours in certain areas; all the civil motor vehicles registered in province, excluding inter-province coaches, police cars on mission, ambulances, and other specific vehicles, are prohibited from on-road running within the 5th ring road (included) during the rush hours while respecting the restriction measure of “being off-road during rush hours on weekdays”. This demonstrates that the traffic management measure of restricting motor vehicle usage is becoming a routine strategy to deal with traffic congestion of Beijing and the target vehicles of this restriction measure are gradually extending from those registered locally in Beijing to those registered in province.

3. Comparative Analysis 3.1 Changes of measures When comparing the traffic management measures implemented in Beijing since the Olympics in 2008, some changes can be seen in terms of contents. Firstly, the measures of restricting motor vehicle usage of public sectors have been implemented in addition since Oct. 1st, 2008, which include that 30% of the motor vehicles belonging to Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments should be sealed up and stop on-road running, and all the motor vehicles belonging to the Central Government and its departments in Beijing, the state-owned enterprises and institutions in Beijing, Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments, and the institutions attached to Beijing Municipal Government should be off road one day a week within the administration area of Beijing. This demonstrates the leading role of the governments in the struggle against traffic congestion. Secondly, the validity of the traffic management measures have been extended in succession, from two and a half months at the very beginning (from Jul. 1st to Sept. 20th, 2008), and then to six months (from Oct. 1st, 2008 to Apr. 10th, 2009) and one year (from Apr. 11th, 2009 to Apr. 10th, 2010) later on, and finally to two years (from Apr. 11th, 2010 to Apr. 10th, 2012), which means that the traffic management measures centering on the restriction of motor vehicle usage including the sealing-up of the motor vehicles belonging to


the governments of various levels have be transformed from a temporary act targeting at special events into a long-term strategy aiming at relieving traffic congestion. Thirdly, the valid area of restricting motor vehicle usage has been gradually narrowed down and finally limited within the 5th ring road while with the ring road excluded, which implies that the goal of the traffic management measures is to rescue the Central City of Beijing, the area suffered most from traffic congestion, from the urban disease of traffic congestion. Fourthly, the valid time of the measure of restricting motor vehicle usage has been slightly shortened, from 24 hours at the beginning to 15 hours, and the 13 hours, which indicates the due respect to the right of travel of the citizens. Fifthly, the way of restricting motor vehicle usage has been changed step by step from alternative running based on the odd or even tail license number to being off-road one day a week based on the tail license number and alternating once a month, and then to being off-road one day a week during the rush hours based on the tail license number and alternating once every 13 weeks, which demonstrates the due consideration on the convenience of the citizens. The last two changes show in particular a people-oriented philosophy of Beijing Municipal Government when institutionalizing the traffic control measures (Table 6). Table 6: Changes of traffic management measures in terms of contents since the Olympics in 2008 Traffic Management Measures

During Olympics st

After Olympics th

Apr. 11th, 2009 to Apr. 10th, 2010

Apr. 11th, 2010 to Apr. 10th, 2012

Jul. 1 , 2008 to Sept. 20th, 2008

Oct. 11 , 2008 to Apr. 10th, 2009

Sealing up the motor vehicles of public sectors

None

30% of the motor vehicles belonging to Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments

Restricting motor vehicle usage of public sectors

None

All the motor vehicles belonging to the Central Government and its departments in Beijing, the state-owned enterprises and institutions in Beijing, Beijing’s local governments of various levels and their departments, and the institutions attached to Beijing Municipal Government should be off-road one day a week within the administration area of Beijing

Validity

2.5 months

Half a year

Valid time

24 hours

15 hours

One year

Two years

13 hours th

13 hours th

Valid area

Beijing’s administration area in early stage, and within the 5th ring road (included) later on

Within the 5 ring road (included)

Within the 5 ring road (excluded)

Restriction mode

Alternative running based on the odd or even tail license number

Off-road one day a week during rush hours based on the tail license number, alternating once a month

Off-road one day a week during rush hours based on the tail license number, alternating once every 13 weeks


3.2 Changes of effects Comparing the effects of the traffic management measures implemented in different periods since Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, it can be seen that, although the traffic situation and air quality were remarkably improved after the implementation of the traffic management measure, the comprehensive effects have been decreasing step by step, with the traffic index rising up, the average running speed of motor vehicles slowing down, and the gas emissions reduction of motor vehicles decreasing. Two facts may help to explain this phenomenon. One is that the measure restricting motor vehicle usage is becoming more and more tolerant along with the valid time being decreased, the valid area being narrowed, the restriction mode being adjusted. The other, which is more important, is that the motor vehicle possession of Beijing has been rapidly increasing along with the sustained socio-economic development and stimulated by the policy of restricting motor vehicle usage. Both of the two facts have counteracted to a large extent the positive effects of restricting motor vehicle usage on relieving traffic congestion. Table 7: Implemented Effects Variation since 2008 Olympic Games Effects

During Olympics st

Jul. 1 , 2008 to Sept. 20th, 2008 Traffic index Running speed

43 km/h in average in the central urban area

Gas emission reduction

After Olympics th

Oct. 11 , 2008 to Apr. 10th, 2009

Apr. 11th, 2009 to Apr. 10th, 2010

5.15

6.05

25.2 km/h in average during morning rush hours

24.3 km/h in average during morning rush hours

375 ton per day

310 ton per day

Apr. 11th, 2010 to Apr. 10th, 2012

3.3 Conclusions It is undeniable that, in Beijing, the traffic controlling measures centering on the restriction of motor vehicle usage have achieved positive effects on relieving traffic congestion and improving air quality both during and after the Olympic Games. At the same time, it should be recognized that, following the continuous growth of motor vehicle possession, the comprehensive effects of such traffic management measures are gradually decreasing. It demonstrates that, as a strategy of traffic demand management targeting at decreasing the total number of on-road motor vehicles, the measure of restricting motor vehicle usage could only constitute a temporary countermeasure to relieve traffic congestion, rather than a fundamental means. Thus, it is impossible to rely on the traffic management measures centering on restricting motor vehicles usage to completely resolve the problem of traffic congestion in Beijing, but to make efforts in different aspects, such as restructuring the functional layout of the city, developing the public transportation, and promoting green travels. On the one hand, the spatial structure of the city should be re-adjusted to promote a relatively balanced distribution of work and living, so as to shorten the commuting distance; on the other hand, various modes of public transport should be greatly developed to encourage travels by public transportation, so as to reduce car use; meanwhile, a green transportation system should be built up, so as to promote the green travels of different modes. This would be the fundamental way to step out of traffic congestion and stimulate the sustainable development


of urban mobility.

Reference: 1. MAO Baohua. Analysis on Transportation Development Policy of Beijing Post-Olympics. Engineering and Information of Transportation Systems. Jun. 2008: 138-145. 2. WANG Shuling, CHEN Jinchuan, DU Huabing, and XIAN Kai. Application of Traffic Demand Management during Sino-Africa Cooperation Forum. Urban Transportation. Vol. 5, No. 3; May 2007: 71-75. 3. SU Yuelong, DANYa, ZHANG Yi, WANG Chao, and CHENG Sihan. Analysis on Beijing’s Traffic Demand Management Strategy of Alternative Running Based on Odd or Even Number. Traffic. Transportation Information and Security. Mar., 2009: 28-31. 4. JIANG Xuefeng. Beijing: A Good Traffic Situation during Olympic Games. Transportation Forum.


Analysis on Beijing's Policy of Restricting Motor Vehicle Usage