Caixin
Sep 14, 2016 07:25 PM
ENVIRONMENT

China Roads Expected to be Clogged Before Mid-Autumn Festival

Driving in rush hour can be a nightmare in China, especially during days before major holidays.

One of the busiest days in September was expected to be the Wednesday that precedes the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday of Thursday through Saturday. Another busy day will be Sept. 30, the day before National Day and its related "Golden Week" national holiday, according to a report by Didi Research Institute, which is run by car-hailing company Didi Chuxing Technology Co.

Some companies in Beijing encouraged employees to leave work early on Wednesday to avoid traffic jams.

The cause of the traffic jams is pretty straightforward — increasing income means more families can afford their own cars. In 2015, almost 1 out of every 3 Chinese households owned a car, while 1 out of 4 families did a year before. The peak traffic congestion time in the capital city was about three hours every work day in 2015, according to the Traffic Management Bureau.

Beijing has introduced a raft of policies to tackle the peak-hour traffic snarls. The municipality forces drivers to take their vehicles off the road once a week on a weekday according to the last digit on their license plates. It also reduces new purchases by limiting the number of license plates issued. Customers obtain license plates through a drawing that takes place every two months. The latest result on Aug. 26 showed that only 0.13 percent of applicants were able to get new plates.

Beijing isn't even the most congested city in China. Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, ranks at the top in terms of traffic jams. Cars run at an average speed of 16.4 km per hour, about the same as a fast bike. Chongqing ranked second, followed by Xi'an, Jinan and Beijing, according to the Didi report.

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Contact reporter Coco Feng at renkefeng@caixin.com; editor Ken Howe at kennethhowe@caixin.com

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