Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shanghai studies traffic congestion charge to control pollution

Eco-Business: Shanghai, which inaugurated a free trade zone last month and is targeting to become a global financial center, is studying whether to impose a traffic congestion charge as part of a broader plan to fight pollution.

A congestion charge is one of the measures being considered as part of a white paper on transportation, Gao Yiyi, an official with the Shanghai Municipal Transport and Port Authority, said today at a joint departmental briefing. The city also pledged to cut levels of PM2.5 — the most damaging particulate matter — by 20 percent by 2017 from last year’s levels, according to the environmental protection bureau.

“Vehicles are a big reason behind the increase in PM2.5 and pollution levels and this is an area of a lot of public concern,” Gao said. “Heavy polluting vehicles is an area where we will strongly control.”

If implemented, Shanghai would be the first in China to adopt road pricing for motorists, following Singapore and London, which charge drivers more for traveling into the city center at peak hours. Shanghai was the first in China to put a cap on the number of new vehicles, distributing the license plates by auction. Other cities have also mooted imposing a congestion charge.

Shanghai’s plan follows a move by Beijing, which this week announced rules that will sharply reduce the number of government and private vehicles on the roads and shut schools when there are forecasts of serious pollution for three consecutive days. Premier Li Keqiang has pledged a cleanup that includes cutting coal consumption, shutting steel plants and controlling the number of cars...

Traffic in the Huangpu District, Shanghai, shot by BrokenSphere, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license 

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