Beijing prepares for September gridlock

Updated: 2013-09-02 00:51

By Jin Haixing (China Daily)

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Beijing's traffic authorities will use motorbikes and helicopters as part of a series of measures to tackle heavy traffic in September.

Helicopters will be used to gather detailed traffic information, which will be released to the public, according to the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.

Beijing prepares for September gridlock

Traffic jams, already an everyday scene in Beijing, are expected to worsen in September as the new school year begins.Zou Hong / China Daily

More traffic police will be dispatched to maintain traffic order, according to a statement on the bureau's website on Thursday.

Based on previous years' traffic statistics, the Beijing Commission of Transport said that September will witness some of the heaviest traffic congestion due to the new school semester, as well as the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays.

Road congestion is expected reach serious levels on nine days this month, with the traffic congestion index expected to reach above 8.5. The index measures congestion on a scale of 0 (no congestion) to 10 (heavily congested).

The days surrounding the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday, Sept 17, Sept 18, Sept 22 and Sept 29, are expected to hit above 9.0, the statement said.

Mid-Autumn Day, which falls on Sept 19 this year, has become a popular holiday for people to send gifts, so many cars from outside Beijing are expected to come to the capital.

Last year, on Sept 25, five days before the National Day holiday, the city witnessed a peak road congestion index of 9.8 during late afternoon.

According to the commission's latest plan to deal with heavy traffic this month, government departments have been told not to hold large meetings or activities.

Companies and institutions are also urged to offer employees flexible work hours to avoid traffic gridlock, said Wang Wenfang, a spokeswoman for the transport commission, on Thursday.

However, it will be up to the companies or institutions to implement a flexible work schedule policy, Wang added.

Meanwhile, Beijing plans to open and change seven bus lines in September and introduce more community bus lines for commuters.

Customized shuttle bus lines will also be introduced this month, according to the commission.

Liu Fuli, an independent expert in traffic congestion, welcomed the new measures and said flexible work-hour policies would be better implemented if government departments could try them out first.

He added that the problem of traffic congestion in Beijing lies in wrongly set traffic signals on city side roads.

Zhang Mingming, 33, who works in the Financial Street area, said that a flexible working schedule would not resolve road congestion because in some areas, because traffic has been a long standing problem.

"Every day I drive my car to work and pass the West Railway Station area, I get caught for at least a half an hour,"Zhang said.

The number of cars on the road is increasing, and the current road system cannot cope with so many vehicles, she said.

Lei Xiu, 27, another commuter living in the Mentougou district, said she has already noticed traffic increasing in recent days.

Lei said she worries this week the traffic will become worse because many parents will be taking their children to school for the new semester.

"This month, I plan to get up early every working day to avoid the traffic peak,"Liu said.

Yan Ran contributed to this story.