Sunday, July 24, 2011

Taming Beijing's Traffic

China Daily has a story about new efforts to reduce congestion in Beijing. The City is considering ""both economic and administrative measures" to further reduce the use of private cars and divert private car owners to public transport."

The article mentions a few things about public transit that are worth noting, and potentially a better way to think about transit than convention. First:
Meanwhile, Liu said that constructing a denser underground transport system in downtown areas will be another key component in reducing congestion on the roads.

"Eighty percent of new rail transit lines will be built in downtown areas," he said.

We talk about density of housing and employment a lot but rarely think about network quality as a desirable feature. A dense network is better than a hub and spoke type network because density connects more people to more destinations within a given amount of time. But the second point sounds like Beijing has some more prosaic work to do:
Zhang Changqing, an expert on public transport law at Beijing Jiaotong University, pointed out that usually the city's subway stations and bus stations are not located near each other due to uncoordinated planning.

"If the bus and rail systems could be linked, it would be a cutting-edge advantage," he said.

Cutting edge! I like that, and this type of coordination is really amount making the transit network denser. The last thing to pull out of the story is about parking:
The report noted a sharp reduction in the number of cars in parking lots due to the rise in parking fees, with a 12 and 19 percent drop in the number of cars in parking lots and off-street garages.

The Ministry of Public Security said that Beijing had 4.64 million vehicles by June, but only 2.5 million parking spaces.

Over two million cars don't have a parking space! That's a lot of cars. I wonder how much of the congestion in Beijing is simply due to people driving around looking for a place to park.
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