As an increasing number of global cities consider introducing London-style congestion charging, Beijing has taken more extreme action with a new phased traffic ban.
The restrictions were introduced yesterday, and authorities in Beijing have already announced that they were a success, removing a fifth of the 3.5 million cars that battle each other on the Chinese capital’s roads each day.
Rising Chinese prosperity and the booming demand for private cars has given Beijing some of the worst traffic in the world. Partial bans on private cars were imposed during the Olympic games earlier this year, but now local authorities are trialling a six-month rolling ban on private cars for one day a week, depending on the final digits of their registration plates.
Cars with plates ending in ‘1’ or ‘6’ were banned yesterday, those ending with ‘2’ and ‘7’ will be prohibited today – and so on. A similar ban has already been placed on government cars. To compensate motorists for the restrictions, the local government has ended road toll fees for one month and increased public transport capacity.
Similar schemes are in operation elsewhere in the world, including Athens – which bans odd and even registered cars on consecutive days.