Student commutes to clog traffic

Updated: 2015-09-07 07:39

By Zhao Xinying(China Daily)

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With most schools in Beijing starting a new semester and large numbers of parents driving their children to school on Monday, traffic will be extremely heavy, transportation authorities said.

The so-called congestion index - which runs from 0 to 10, indicating traffic from light to heavy - may reach 9.2 on Monday morning, the Beijing Commission of Transport said in a news release.

Monday is opening day for all universities, middle schools, primary schools and kindergartens.

"The official opening of school often raises traffic pressure in the city," Zhou Zhengyu, director of the commission, was quoted by Beijing News as saying.

He said the commission conducted a survey of primary and middle school students and found that 26 percent planned to go to school in cars driven by their parents, meaning at least 200,000 cars would be added to the morning peak.

"According to our estimate, about 400,000 automobiles will be on the road when schools start," Zhou told Beijing News. "School openings bring traffic congestion."

Liu Changwen, a 36-year-old resident of Beijing's Chaoyang district, needs about 30 minutes to drive his son to a primary school in Dongcheng district. He said he had foreseen the congestion and would adjust his departure time.

"My impression is that September is the most crowded month in recent years, especially on the first day of school," he said, adding that he and his son will leave home 20 minutes early to avoid possible congestion.

Figures released by the transport commission supported Liu's impression. From 2010 to 2013, the congestion index in September has topped that of all other months. It was 20 percent higher than the average level of each year.

This month is expected to be no exception. Earlier, the commission said that eight days this month would have extremely heavy traffic: Sept 6, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 24 and 25. On each of those days, the congestion index was expected to be over 9.0.

Sunday's index was not that high, however. It was the first working day after the national three-day vacation.

The index ranged between 8.1 and 8.5 in the early morning and dropped after 8:30 am.

Zhou said the situation was better than estimated because some people didn't return to work and some schools didn't start on that day.

However, it will be hard to repeat the performance on Monday, he said.

He also said rain, during this busy month, will make things worse. The commission, together with other departments, will pay close attention to the traffic situation and will take measures - for example, allowing students to leave school early if rain is forecast, Zhou said.