Highway congestion eases as new policy takes effect
By Cai Wenjun
The number of vehicles traveling on elevated highways in the Puxi area of Shanghai between 7am and 10am yesterday fell 2.2 percent from the same period of last week, according to the city’s road monitoring center.
Yesterday marked the first day of new restrictions on cars with non-local license plates, which are now banned from expressways in the rush hour periods of 7am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm.
The new rule is designed to reduce congestion in key areas of the city, the traffic authority said, adding that further measures will be taken if considered necessary.
An earlier rule banned non-local vehicles from the highways from 7:30am to 9:30pm and 4:30pm to 6:30pm.
To ensure the smooth execution of the new policy, police vehicles were stationed at the entrances to the elevated roads, while officers directed drivers with non-local plates to alternative routes.
Supporting the initial findings of the monitoring center, the city’s Metro operator said it carried 15,000 more passengers during yesterday’s morning rush hour, an increase of about 0.6 percent from a week earlier.
The company said also that there was an increase in the number of users of park-and-ride stations.
A local driver was full of praise for the new policy.
“I always noticed a sudden increase in the number of cars on the elevated roads after 6:30pm, when I was on my way home,” said Tom Qian.
“It was a good idea to extend the restrictions, as it will give me enough time to get over the elevated roads.”
Lorelei Lu, who drives a car with an out-of-town plate, was less impressed.
“It’s very inconvenient if I’m trying to get to and from my office,” she said.
“I left early on purpose tonight, but I can’t do that every day.”
The ban is unlikely to solve the congestion problem, she said.
“The authorities should better arrange the road network and provide alternative routes through key areas instead of just imposing bans on non-local cars,” she said.
“In fact, most of the cars with non-local plates are owned by Shanghai residents who can’t afford a local plate because they’re too dear,” she said.