Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I know, I'm a little late to the party on writing about this, so apologies for that.
As of yesterday, a new policy is in effect in Beijing to keep 800,000 cars off the roads every day. Though not nearly as far-reaching as the odd/even car ban implemented during the Olympics, the basic concept is the same: forbid certain cars from driving inside Beijing's fifth ring road depending on the last digit of their license plates. According to this policy, vehicles whose license plate numbers end in 1 and 6 may not drive on Mondays, 2 and 7 on Tuesdays, 3 and 8 on Wednesdays, 4 and 9 on Thursdays, and 5 and 0 on Fridays (though supposedly the prohibited driving days will change each month). There are no restrictions on the weekends. Additionally, the government has supposedly eliminated 30% of government cars, though the details on how are a bit hazy.
I'm curious to see what the results of this policy will be, both from a pollution perspective and a congestion perspective. My initial reaction on the former is that it won't have a huge effect, largely because cars are not the largest source of pollution in Beijing anyway. I wonder, then, if the ban is somewhat symbolic, a response to the loud public calls for the government to do something to signify a clear commitment not to let the pollution return to pre-Olympic levels.
Or maybe we are just seeing one step in a broad, coordinated series of policies designed to ween car-addicted Beijingers back to transit, bikes, and walking...