In its latest proposed attempt to reduce traffic in Beijing, the municipal government is contemplating employing a congestion charge similar to that used in London and Singapore to discourage drivers from passing through the city center at peak hours.

The draft plan would charge drivers between RMB 20 and 50 per day to drive through the city center, an area as yet not designated. That price would be about the same as most car owners pay for daily parking on Beijing streets and in lots.

However, traffic limitation measure have faced significant opposition from car owners, despite otherwise widespread public support. Plans to move to an odd-even license plate limitation system this past winter, which we at the Beijinger support wholeheartedly as a permanent traffic and pollution reduction method, was scuttled after automobile owners reacted negatively. Beijing continues to use license plate-based traffic limitation, keeping cars with two different license plate numbers off the road one business day per week.

One unspoken side effect of a congestion charge would also be a possible increase in taxi fares. While taxis and certainly buses could be exempted from the charges, Singapore does not do so as part of its pricing plan. London taxis are not required to pay congestion charges.

London assesses drivers a flat fee per day to drive into the city center. Singapore collects fees from car owners based on what areas of the city they drive to and at what time of day.

The municipal government did not indicate how fees would be collected. The plan could go into effect later this year if approved, the South China Morning Post reported.

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Photo: Beijing International


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