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City to get congestion alert system this year
2015-01-20
By Ma Yue

SHANGHAI’S transport authority said it will introduce a new congestion alert system this year as experts think the city’s roads are set to become even more crowded.

“Based on figures collected last year, as well as the morning and evening rush hour congestion, the city experiences an afternoon jam,” said Xue Meigen, vice president of the Shanghai Urban-Rural Construction and Transportation Development Research Institute.

“With more cars on the roads and major construction projects like the Beiheng Passage and renovation of Yan’an Road E. Tunnel, the situation will worsen in 2015,” Xue said.

“This year, the average speed on more than 12 percent of the city’s expressways will be under 40 kilometers per hour during the morning rush hour.”

Currently, the figure is about 10 percent, according to a report issued by the institute yesterday.

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By extension, it can therefore be assumed that higher speeds are achieved on 90 percent of the city’s expressways.

At the end of last year there were almost 2.2 million cars with Shanghai plates, an increase of 194,000 from the end of 2013, the report said.

The figure will rise again this year as the authority issues about 100,000 new plates every year.

Cars with non-local plates are banned from using expressways during the morning (7:30am-9:30am) and evening (4:30pm-6:30pm) peak periods.

At other times, about 33 percent of the traffic on the city’s expressways is from out of town.

The transport authority did not say how many cars with non-Shanghai plates there are in the city, but said further measures to restrict them will be introduced in the future.

The institute has built a database, which measures the amount of congestion in Shanghai on a scale of zero to 100, said He Cheng, director of the institute’s information center.

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A score of 0 to 30 indicates “first grade” road conditions and is represented by the color green. A score of 31 to 50 is “second grade” or yellow, while a score of 51 to 70 is “third grade” and orange. Scores of 71 or more mean the congestion is serious, or “fourth grade.”

He said the transport authority will use the database to develop a congestion alert system for Shanghai, which will be released some time after April.

The public will be notified of the congestion situation once a score above 50 is recorded, at which time “appropriate” measures will be taken.

These will include such things as further restricting vehicles with non-local plates and putting more police officers on congested roads.

The authority might also introduce a congestion prediction service in the future, He said.

Yesterday’s report also showed that last year, for the first time ever, the subway was people’s first choice for public transport.

Of all the 18 million trips made on public transport every day, The Metro contributed about 43 percent, compared with just the buses’ 40.5 percent.

“The trend is in line with our urban planning for downtown areas,” Xue said.

“Buses will play the lead role in suburban areas, but be only a supporting act to the Metro in downtown areas,” he said.

Shanghai has 14 Metro lines, carrying 8.4 million people every working day. The average over the full week is more than 7.7 million. Buses carry about 7.3 million people a day.

The transport authority said it also plans to restrict the issue of suburban area car license plates due to a “rapid increase in recent years.”

Cars with plates starting with a letter “C” are allowed only on roads outside the Outer Ring. There were 670,000 such cars in the city at the end of last year.

C plates are not included in the monthly auction, but can be bought for about 1,000 yuan (US$160).

“Shanghai has restricted the increase of local-plate cars through the auction system, but the number of C plates and non-local plates have been growing by 100,000 and 150,000 respectively every year,” said Huang Xiaoyong, a spokesperson for the Shanghai Transport Commission.

“We will introduce further restrictions soon to improve the congestion situation,” he said.

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