Private cars became the number one means of conveyance for commuters in 2013 with Beijing drivers spending just under two hours per working day stuck in traffic, the Beijing Municipal Transportation Department announced Thursday in its annual report.
Of almost 31 million passenger trips within the Sixth Ring Road per working day in 2013, 33 percent were made in private cars, pushing cars into the driver’s seat in terms of popularity among commuters. Another 25 percent went to work on the bus, with 7 percent traveling by taxi. With 65 percent of Beijing commuters traveling by road, no wonder the highways are jammed. About 21 percent of people used the subway, with cyclists rounding out the numbers with 12 percent.
As a result, the average driver crawled along Beijing streets for one hour and 55 minutes per working day, an increase of 25 minutes per day, the department said. Average vehicle speed during morning and evening rush hours is 25.8 km/h, a slight improvement over 2012’s average speed of 24.2 km/h. The evening commute was more congested than the morning rush hour, the report said, by about five to eight percent, referring specifically to road traffic, and not necessarily including crowds on the Beijing Subway.
That means four days per week for Beijing drivers, as current license plate restrictions mean car owners must leave their vehicles at home one day per week. However, no-drive days and a 20,000-vehicle per month cap on the number of new cars that may be sold (to new buyers; owners of existing vehicles may replace them at will and without penalty) are having little impact to reduce traffic congestion, the report said. Electric vehicles may be purchased without limit at present.
These numbers are not dissimilar to New York City. In fairness, in New York, especially Manhattan, car travel is expensive and relatively inconvenient compared to other travel methods, yet 29% still travel by private car.
Fifty-six percent of New Yorkers use public transportation, but only a tiny fragment (1%) use taxis. Perhaps surprisingly, only 1 percent of commuters there bike, (take that, New York!) but 10 percent walk to work.
This post first appeared on thebeijinger on February 13, 2014.
Photos courtesy of thebeijinger