To Tackle Traffic Jam, Beijing Sets New Car Plate Quota, Limits Out-of-Towners

The municipal government of Beijing announced today a series of drastic measures to tackle the notorious congestion on the city’s streets. They mainly include: (1) limiting the number of new license plates issued to passenger cars to 20,000 a month. The plates will be randomly assigned to applicants at a lottery held on the 26th day of each month. 88% of plates will go to private car buyers; (2) barring vehicles from outside Beijing (those registered in other regions) from entering areas inside "the 5th Ring Road" during rush hours; (3) not increasing the quotas for government-employed cars in the next five years; (4) lowering parking rates and shortening parking hours in some of the city’s core areas.

To be able to participate in the plate-assigning lottery, people have to prove that they are registered residents of Beijing or–if they are from other parts of China–have lived and paid taxes in the city for five consecutive years.

These measures are intended to slow down the growth of private car ownership and encourage the use of public transport. By 2015, the government wants half of the passengers in the city to take a bus or subway.

On Dec. 05, 2010, the number of motor vehicles registered in Beijing reached 4.71 million, compared with 4 million by the end of last year. This means, on average, more than 60,000 new vehicles have been added to the city’s traffic each month this year, most of them being sedans, SUVs, MPVs, and microvans.