The minute September arrived I felt the wrath of the Beijing traffic. The roads feel even more congested than ever, the buses and the underground more packed. As a newbie in the city, I wonder what is going on. But I let it ride (so to speak) and just go with the flow, hoping it will die down sooner or later. But now we are a week into the month and nothing’s changed; I just how much longer this sudden surge in traffic will last.
According to the The Beijinger, I’m not imagining things. This traffic is real. Very real. And it’s here to stay. Well, at least for now. The terrible traffic days spread out across the month, the worst of which is on the 29th. But I guess it isn’t surprising what with back to back holidays at the end of the month and the back to school run at the beginning.
Beijing traffic authorities are warning people to stay off the road while encouraging government departments to ease off on having large meetings or activities this month, and suggest organizing flexible working hours for their employees. Alongside this, seven more bus lines are being introduced in total, as well as several customized shuttle buses.
Traffic congestion levels are set to reach dangerously close to level 10 (most heavily congested) on nine days this month; there’s also been talks of introducing a London style congestion charge in the hopes of reducing traffic in the city.
However, there are some who are skeptical about the introduction of the congestion charge. The director of the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Niu Fengrui stated in a Global Times news report:
“The congestion fees will not solve the problem for good and this is a costly project. It requires more facilities and human input, which will in turn increase the congestion. Maximizing existing traffic resources should be the most urgent measure to alleviate congestion.”
But whether or not the city decides to go ahead with some of these traffic tackling solutions, and while we the average citizens wait for all of these things to take effect, some of us have already formed a survival plan. Try to beat the traffic by getting up and heading out the door a little earlier than normal. If you are able, perhaps opt to travel by bicycle, or if you have a car try car-pooling with colleagues. This not only cuts down on the amount of cars on the road but helps the effort in reducing car emissions. And if you are really feeling anarchistic, why just stay in bed and not bother going in to work at all? Think of how much you will be saving the environment.
Happy travels and remember to be patient; this too shall pass.